In honor of the 20th anniversary of the release of t.A.T.u’s debut album “200 Po Vstrechnoy”, which became a real musical sensation, the songwriters of the band and the Lookport company organized the first t.A.T.u tribute, which is called “200 Po Vstrechnoy”. The album includes 26 covers of the band’s main hits, and Monetochka, Danya Milokhin, Manizha, LSP, Klava Koka, Vervi, Alla Pugacheva and many other artists took part in its creation. In addition, on November 20, Music Media Dome will host the “200 Po Vstrechnoy” tribute show. Cream Soda, Vervi, Vera Brezhneva, IOWA, Vintage, Obe Dve, Larisa Dolina and other artists will appear on the stage, performing the main t.A.T.u. hits. We discussed with Elena Kiper, producer and co-author of t.A.T.u.’s songs, and Alexei Volk, Lookport’s producer and organizer of the t.A.T.u. tribute, the group’s legal nightmare, a new generation of performers, the possibility of an alternative tribute and what we are still looking for when addressing t.A.T.u.
Here are the main highlights from the interview:
When you started discussing the tribute with Ivan, how did he react?
This was 2 years before the start of the project.
I started discussing this at the end of spring, beginning of summer when Lookport and I started working on the project. But this whole idea was thought up by Elena and the team of authors.
Many of the authors were for it. We constantly communicated with the authors, who are scattered across not only the country but the world. In 2019, when Ivan was in the hospital for the second time, I thought that he would need an expensive procedure. So, I thought to do a tribute to raise money for the procedure, that we will dedicated to a social aspect, to protect…I will not say what the aspect is. It has transformed a bit in our story, in our tribute that we are doing this year…I hope we are doing it this year because it is going to be on November 20th. But there was a humanitarian aspect to it.
I was seeing the news that was coming out, and it seemed as if you could not come to an agreement with Ivan. And then all of a sudden, unexpectedly, I found out that he is glad to do it.
Those “all of a sudden”s always happened in this project. That is what the project was made of, so maybe that is why.
But then why did it not work out with the girls?
It did not work out with them 2 years ago when we started this for the first time and it is very hard to explain. Yesterday, people reacted to my post online when I published something promoting the tribute: someone commented, “and at this time Lena Katina is performing at a Moscow bar”. (laughing) I Googled it and the concert was in Mytishchi. It’s hard to understand, isn’t it?
We are waiting for both Lena and Julia. We have invited them and are using this opportunity to invite them again.
I will be happy if the organizers somehow solve the issue with the girl and somehow turn it around. The concert is more of a tribute towards their side. The authors, yes, that is understood, they are heroes of the tribute. But the girls are heroes too.
So there is still room for discussion?
It is always there, either for discussion or some kind of decision.
Regarding the participants of the tribute.
[For Vera Brezhneva’s performance of Polchasa] a carousel has been built and will burn during the performance.
Vera Brezhneva’s cover of “Polchasa”, was there a new meaning and feeling in her version?
Of course. It is just hard to achieve the sincerity of 15 year olds.
When Vera sings Polchasa, it is a prayer of a mature and experienced woman.
Yes, and it is harder for her to perform it like t.A.T.u., I understand that. And the fact that she performed it is already good.
MANIZHA’s cover was not for me. It was an interweaving of two songs. MANIZHA performed at Eurovision, “Every Russian Woman Needs To Know”. And that song weaves into the cover version of “Ne Ver, Ne Boysia, Ne Prosi”. What do you think of it?
I cannot critique someone’s creativity. I can only be happy with the diversity of these versions. One of the strongest versions for me is Imany’s “All The Things She Said”.
MANIZHA performed at Eurovision and t.A.T.u. did too with “Ne Ver, Ne Boysia, Ne Prosi”. MANIZHA was faced with a lot of hate from Russia when she went to perform at Eurovision. For her, this approach of “do not believe, do no fear…and calm down” helped her morally to get through everything with Eurovision.
Who was the hardest to work with?
The hardest was not the performers but with those we encountered. We would be on the phone for 4 hours, coordinating and trying to figure out why performers were dropping out. When instead you can come, rethink and play this game with us. When I thought to do this two years ago, I wanted to participate in every new track, to be there, to film the story and show what is happening backstage. But honestly all of the energy was taken by these conflicts that were not necessary.
…3 hours before the release of the tribute album I got a call from one of the artists saying they do not want to release the track anymore. It was a duet. I will not say who it was, but look at the album, there are not that many duets. One of the artists did not approve the final version with the other. But we were able to make it in time, to re-do it and update it on all the streaming platforms. Everything was fine, the track was released and the artist was happy. A singer will call after sending the master file and signing the agreement saying, “We thought about it and we don’t think it is complete, let’s not release it”. The album is finalized a month before the release, we collected all the master files at the end of August. There were a bunch of these instances.