A lunch with Tatu in Helsinki (September 23, 2005)

Time of publication: 23.09.2005
I won the radio station competition to have a lunch with Tatu, and since my username is my name and the competition winner hadn't been announced I used Sacrifice username. Nothing would have been more humiliating than losing the chance simply 'cos I bragged about it too soon..
Anyway.. I travelled to Helsinki and went to a restaurant I was asked to come. It was said to be on the second flooor and when I walk up the first stairs there's a round screen playing "all about us" with a low volume. (I'm definitely in the right place!!) I walk up another stairs and find myself in an empty club only the sound of "Sacrifice" to keep me company. A woman walks up to me and I introduce myself.
-You've been expected.

What? I'm not late am I? Then suddenly, way too surprisingly I in a room with about 15 people and right in front of me sits Lena on a couch and she looks at me with this weird "who the hell are you"- way. Then the word "Hey" comes out of my mouth like a reflex, no response. But then I think if it really is Lena. I just walked in here with no questions asked and Lena is here for Christ's sake!! Where's all the bodyguards? Maybe she Lena's sister who looks just like her, 'cos I gotta say she looked very young and has changed from the 200km.. era. But one thing was sure, she might look good in pictures but live she is the most beautiful thing you'll ever seen. She looked gorgeus, stunning, amazing, absolutely breathtaking and skinny.
But I couldn't see Yulia.

Then I meet Finnish staff who give me the menue for preorders. And all I wanna say is that FOOD ain't the reason why I'm here. On the other side of the small room is coaches aswell with three people and a camera. I put my jacket down and Lena walks past me and I can still see her wondering who I am. (No wonder with security that rubbish!!) Nervously like a rabbit running in fron of a car I give her a rose.
- Oh I have this for you!
- Thanks, she smiles. She then gives the rose immediately away and I think "Great, she hates it!" Suddenly I'm scared that what if they're going to act like horrible divas?!
Now I see Yulia for the first time. She had been lying on the couch next to Lena the whole time with a jacket as a blanket and I hadnt seen her. She quickly walks past me without even glancing at me so I didn't so I didnt bother yelling.
- Hey Yulia, I've got a rose for you too!!
She joins Lena and they start to give an interviw. I start staring at them smiling like an escapee from bedlam. One of the finnish staff members Lena had given the rose gives it to me back saying I can give it later 'cos they cant be shown on Tv. (Don't know why though)

In the interview its mainly Lena who does the talking but man, was I surprised to hear how well Yulia spoke English when she did. I didn't hear eveything they said but I did hear their rather interesting answer when they were asked about the leaking of the new album.
Lena: - We dont care. As long as they listen to our music.

The whole time I'm just staring at me and someone says I can order whatever I like to drink. (No, I didn't come for DRINKS either) Lena glances at me once in a while but Yulia is just looking straight forward when she isn't answering any questions. And when she did look into my eyes it was more like she needed something to point her eyes at than like she really was looking at me. Yeah and another interesting answer came when Yulia was asked if she's going to move to US.
-Yeah, in 10 months. (I'm not sure I heard the months right it could have been 8 aswell.)

(Funny thing is that before the interview started the interviewer didn't know how many singles they had relesed from the new album. I was proud to inform then "Lyudi Invalidi" was a Russian release only)

After the interview a guy from Tatu's table walks over to them and starts talking. I don't know who he was, but he sure wasn't a reporter not having any recording means with him, but he said something that pissed Lena off. He was sitting so that Yulia was between them and Lena pulled her head back so that her angry eyes could meet with his. Apparently Yulia's head was still in between and all three started to move their heads back and forth, leaving only Yulia the one looking amused.
Lena: -You wanna be me?
Man: -Yeah! Hello, I'm Lena for today!
- One word! Lena raised her finger. The guy mums something and Lena points at the table twice before he knows it's better to leave. Actually he just stood up and went bit of aside saying loudly:
- Coldhearted bitch!
You can imagine at this point I'm all OMG they really are divas!! The guy however was part of their American team (A manager maybe) and I think he was advising Lena a bit too much!

Next interview was for radio and Yulia was clearly panicing and said something in Russian. Lena says to the interviewer that it isn't easy to give an interview with a foreign language and their translator is asked to join them. I thought it was a bit weird 'cos the earlier interview went just fine and Yulia spoke so well English. This was quite short interview and the most interesting question was about their sexuality.
Lena: - No were not lesbians, were never said were lesbians. We kissed because we love each other. And the funny thing is that we said everyone we aren't lesbians and everyone said "yes you are 'cos you kiss" and then Yulia got pregnant and they say "they arent really lesbians". Now they call us liars. That's funny.
Lena spoke with such enthusiasm using her hands and shaking her head, being all lovely just reminding me why I love them so.

Third interview started in front of my eyes just when the previous had ended. The interviewer looked kinda funny. He was the typical artistlike writer you can imagine with quite long hear and colorful clothes. I cant recall anything special from this one, nothing interesting there I guess but partly it was because the translator spoke so quietly I simply coludnt hera Yulia's answers. When it was all over they walked past me again and I'm like "can I get your attention for a while" They sat on their couches and both of them light a cigarette and now the fiinish woman takes me over to their table and introduces me.
- This is Frederico (WHAT THE F***!) He won a contest to meet Tatu.
- Oh! Lena starts smiling to me divinely like to an old friend now understanding what I was doing there. (I was told earlier that the girls have had so much programme to do that they probably don't remember this contest) Yulia is still looking at me with empty eyes. Actually I gotta say she was really tired, she was lying even now and looked she could fall asleep any minute.
- What was the contest an older man asks with a strong american accent. I dont know why the guy looked so familiar but I can swear Ive seen his face before. Have no idea where though...
- He had to invent a D&M restaurant.
- Is there a restaurant with that name here in Finland?
- No, its like imagination.
- Oh..

Yulia sees the roses I have in my hand and reaches hers (her left hand by the way, Is she lefthanded?) And I so nervous that just shake it (man, I'm an idiot) After that I give her the rose. Then I give Lena her rose. Again. Fact that makes her laugh.
- You already gave it to me once!!

Now its said to be time to go downstairs for a lunch and the girls suck the last smokes from the cigarettes. I ask for autographs and when I get my cd Yulia says something in Russia and some people laugh. (Is she already making fun of me?) I give my cd cover to Lena who asks how my name is spelled:
- Kristoffer, not Frederico!
And she writes: "for Kristoffer from "TATU" Be happy!!! With best wishes Lena"

Then she gives it to Yulia who lazily writes down her name. Lena is giving my pen back and I'm reaching my hand to get it when Yulia grabs it and says:
- Nice to meet you Kristoffer! and laughs (Ok, she IS making fun of me. Pretty cool actually. And now that I look at her signature I cant see "Yulia" anywhere. It ends with an "s" and seem to start with and "s" aswell. To be honest it looks like she has written "Shits" with a lovely heart on my cd cover!!!! That would be so her sense of humour.

Sorry that it took so long and thanks for being patient!! Here's what happened in the lunch. And thank you all for showing so much interest, it's been so cool to read your replies!!

So when I had the autographs I put the cd back in my bag and people started to move downstairs. I went with them but rushed back to get my camera!!! When I was walking down the stairs a very friendly looking russian woman gives me her business card and asks me to e-mail her my winning story which I was more than happy to agree with (will send it tomorrow by the way). Then we stepped into the restaurant wing which was completely empty and I was wondering if they had booked the whole place or was it empty because of the early time (about half past two). The Finnish woman who was a represantative of the record company said that they had arranged two tables and a talk about the sitting orders started. Lena had been walking in front of me and sat on the last place against the wall and I was praying that they don't send me to the next table which was just next to this one. So I was pointed to sit in the same table and I was thinking "Man, this really is a dinner with t.A.T.u!!"

Pretty nervously I took the chair right against Lena and asked if I could sit there.
- Sure, she replied.

I've always thought my English pronunciation is rather good but when I asked her: - Did you arrive today? She said: - Yeah, we're a bit late.

So it was a table for eight and next to me sat the finnish woman, next to her the translator and a russian woman from the Tatu team. On the other side of the table sat the familiar looking man (I recalled later that he had worn sunglasses the whole time and it wasn't until this point I really saw his familiar face as he took the glasses of and laughed at his habit to wear them indoors), another guy I didn't know in his thirties, a "mysterious" empty place and Lena.

- Yulia!, the guy in his thirties said loudly as Yulia was the last to arrive. She was still wearing the "blanketjacket" which belonged to this guy as she gave it to him. Under it she was wearing a sleeveless white jacket and a sleeveless shirt with red and white stripes. Lena was wearing a black pullover and a blue shirt. The very first thing Lena did was lighting a cigarette and asking for an ashtray (she was just smoking 15 seconds ago!!! And by the way she managed to smoke twice during the rapid lunch. This girl has an addiction.)

She asked the Finnish woman:
- How many interviews we still have?
- Eight
- Eight? There should be less. We've done five already.
- No you've had seven and eight more. Fifteen in total.
- No we've done five or six, Lena was still debating which forced the finnish woman to take her papers:
- Yeah, there's still eight.
- How many tv? Yulia asked.
- One.

I was asked for my winning story but I didn't have it with me and honestly couldn't remember a thing about it.
- Don't be shy now, the familiar guy said. I started to blurr/explain that it was about eating disgusting things and he asked if I had seen the D&M movie (is there a movie with that name? I thought to myself)
- D&M video, he corrected and said something about it which I didn't quite understand since I haven't seen the video (is there some disgusting eating in that or what?)

Lena started to talk with me right away. I can't remember what the very first topic was but she was very keen to know what I was doing and if I was studying or anything. She was genuinely interested when I told I had applied to study psychology.
- Psychology? I've been studying psychology for three years now.
- Really? (Of course I knew that, lol )
- Yeah, I just need to get my diploma. So where do you wanna study? Here in Finland? I'm going to school in Moscow in an university which is a division for a respected university in St. Petersburg. Are you really sure you want to become a psychologist?I thought I did before I started to study. Now I don't wanna become a psychologist anymore!, she laughed. –I can't go home and forget everything I've heard to work. It takes a certain type of a person and I can't do it.

It was hilarious when she was talking while smoking (she does talk in a quite physical way) started ash fall from her smoke. She cleaned it and the same happened again. She cleaned the ashes from the table again and AGAIN more ash fell on the table. She was laughing and said something in Russia, cursed I assume since she said "I'm sorry" right after it.
- So what are you plans for the future? The finnish woman asked.
- I wanna get married! Was her first answer which she gave leaning forward. -Have children, home. And NEVER travel again, she laughed.
- Really?
- Yeah, we've done nothing but travelled. We haven't slept for two days.
- At all?
- No.

I found that hard to believe 'cos she was in so good spirit and so energetic being smily and friendly all the time. Besides underneath the little make-up she had on, I couldn't find any sign of rounds around the eyes . If the same statement had come from Yulia's mouth I would have bought in no second because she looked all fed-up and ignored me 110%

- What are you going to do for these two free days?
- Sleep! She laughed. – For two days! I just wanna go to my own bed, take my own pillow and sleep.
- You don't usually respect your own home until you get away and see how things are elsewhere.
- Maybe, Lena nod and started to tell about her relationship with her mother. –All friends say "I hate my mom" "I wanna get out" But I love my mom, I always have. Then my friends come to our house and talk with her like one of their friends. (Well did anything expect anything less? Someone who gave birth to someone as sweet as Lena has to be that herself. And just so that you know she called her mom twice during the lunch)

Lena didn't understand it of course but the finnish woman received a phone call from a group of finnish interviewers already waiting t.A.T.u.
- We'll be there in five minutes, she replied (In five minutes!!??? We didn't even have the food served yet!) before rushing to the chef and asking what is taking so long. Lena asked if I had any sisters and when she heard I have an older sister she started to laugh:
- Oh no, younger sisters and brothers are just awful! I have a younger sister and everytime I go home and open the closet it's like, I can't find anything! There's nothing in there! Then I call her and ask if she's wearing my clothes and she's: OOPS!, Lena laughs.
- Are you a good brother?, she asked me.
- Yeah.
- Good.
- I did read her diary as a kid though.
- Oh! That's exactly what I'm talking about! Younger sisters always do something nasty to the older one's. It's even worse with boys because they always got to be so bad. I have an older brother, he's very interesting but he lives so far away from us that I don't see him often.
She also told that she and her brother have a different parent. I've forgotten which one!!

I have to say that Lena's English pronunciation was absolutely flawless. There was a huge gap between the girl from "Screaming for more DVD" and the girl who was sitting in front of me. In MANY ways of course but I guess this was the easiest to notice. I know many Russian people and no matter how many years they have lived in Finland or studied a foreign language they never seem to lose that Russian accent but Lena was talking like any girl from LA for that matter. She did have a cute way to forget who she was talking to and start to speak in Russia with me or English with one of the Russian team members!

I've had the impression about the interviews the girls have given that they don't like to talk about their music and that impression was absolutely correct. Lena was more than happy talking about her family etc but started to give me one word answers when I questioned her about the new album. Like when I asked about her favourite track she gave me the hardly unexpected but really unwanted answer:
- There isn't. I like them all. What's yours? I mean, have you..
- I haven't heard them all but I really like Sacrifice.
- Sacrifice? Really? (She looked at me long as if my answer had made her ponder something. My first thought was that the song has some hidden meaning in it which I haven't understood. Or maybe she has heard many people saying the same and thought about a single release!)

- You've been away for two years so what have you been doing that time?
- I was studying and Yulia was pregnant.
- I heard you made some solo stuff? (Now this is a question which Lena gave a very interesting answer. She didn't say "I did" she said..)
- Yeah, I'm do-ING solo stuff. (What does this tell about the future of t.A.T.u.?)
- Is "Chto ne Khvataet" from that?
- No, that's our song.

I asked when the Russian version of D&M will be released in Europe and she said she had no idea since they don't decide about things like that and asked the "familiar-looking man" about it.
- It's up to the Russian record label, usually it takes two or three months before they get here but if you want it sooner..
- Download it! Lena started to laugh – It's spreading there! (Man, I love that comment!!)
- You can order it from the internet. There you can get it within days, the man continued

Basically I was just asking little things, I was pretty concerned that it would start to sound like an interview since it was their lunch, I didn't want to bother them too much. Well, to bother LENA to be more specific. I did feel like an idiot questioning only her the whole time about questions of a band of two people but since Yulia didn't even glance at anywhere in my direction but kept concentrated with the man next to her, I didn't have much choice. Fortunately I've always been a Lena-fan but still I felt just a little bit of blue about it. I guess Lena noticed my pathetic glances at Yulia's direction since she explained:

- It's Yulia's daughter Vika's birthday today (this took place in friday 23rd if you have forgotten) We're just waiting to get to Moscow right after the interviews.

Since many of you prefer Yulia more (for some odd reason) I'll tell you how she was like. She had been working for her tan as hell, her skin was the color of a chocolatebar! And her arms, especially her shoulders were full of those white spots you get from too much sunbathing. And yeah, she had the black wig on aswell. The whole time she paid no attention to anyone but the man in his thirties next to her. I have no idea about Vika's father or anything like that and I thought Yulia was single but it appeared to me that this man was her boyfriend. I mean, she was wearing his jacket, he kept his arm around her, they shared the same smoke and basically to her there was no other people in the room. The only time she said anything to anyone was a sarcastic "Ha-ha!" she shouted to the next table when they were laughing to a joke someone had said.

Actually the hour and a half (which felt more like half an hour) I spent with them the girls didn't say a word to each other. Not even when they were lying on the couches or waiting in the middle of interviews. All the talks about being lesbians or the best of friends just seemed so empty. Like a creation of management at that point. I'm not saying I don't believe they're friends, I really do think they are, but nothing extraordinary "I'd die for you" friendship is between them if you ask me. And PLEASE don't kill me for being honest but I didn't really like Yulia all that much. Everybody in the team tatu were genuinely nice and much better than anyone in the team Shapolov for that matter and the only one who came out cold was, oddly enough, Yulia. She just seemed so fake starting from her wig, continuing with her tan and strong make-up, her habit to glance herself from a pocket mirror and to put some lipglit on and ending with what I had seen earlier. As they gave radio-interviews Yulia kept staring in front of her like a zombie but wait when it was for tv; then she looked at the interviewer nicely and pressed her head on Lena's shoulder and took her hand and… Even when I asked for a picture Lena said "picture" in Russia to Yulia, they put their heads together, Yulia gives a cute little smile and right after the flash she turns her back on me. Thanks... Explaining all this with exhaustment is a bit odd since Lena was at least tired as her, but was still so nice and smily to everyone. But yet again, I don't mean to sound rude or anything and I'm sure she's a lovely person but that was just the impression I had. An impression which was strengthened by the warmth of Lena who was sitting next to her with her smily face and natural looks. I did have a "bad cop-good cop"–feeling here.

The food was finally served and Lena got her portion first. It was a beef with rice and some brown sauce. (Someone was wondering what Lena ate and quoted her saying that she "can't live without soup" Well to your information both girls had soup as prefood) Yulia was given my chicken salad but I didn't say anything 'cos I didn't know if she had ordered the same. Well she hadn't, she had the same as Lena and both of them had to send the beefs back because they we're red from the inside. I had wondered how come the girls had as many as 15 intervews in tiny Finland, but that guestion was soon answered when a group of Russian reporters crashed the lunch. (Helsinki ain't that far from Russia y'see) I was surprised when even Yulia was nice to them, but I guess that's a priviledge you get only if you talk Russia… When one of the men shook hands with Yulia she screamed and laughed afterwards while shaking her hand in the air. He had pressed too hard!! (No wonder though, I don't mean to sound offensive but you know those handshakes people warn you about, a dead hand with no pressing element at all, it just is there. Well that's Yulia's handshake)

One of the reporters started to talk with the girls about all the countries they had been to and both of them were just rolling their eyes and nodding. Spain, France, Italy etc. and someone commented Yulia about her wig. She laughed and started to straighten it and play with it. Things started to become quite chaotic at this point with all the people gathering around tatu and I felt myself a complete third wheel. Yulia had her beef back and she complained that it was actually Lena's. Lena didn't say a word just let Yulia eat it before she had hers back. I was smiling a little when I saw them eating the burned, almost black pieces of meat which were STILL red from the inside. Can't they make food in this place?

The guy Lena had "fought" with earlier came to our table and a talk about which songs to perform somewhere started to arise, partly in English, partly in Russia. He said they should play "Obizienka nol" in a club at 2am when people are so drunk they can't understand a thing and the song could be played over and over again. I guess brainwashing is a good promotion too . Yulia mentioned some songs from their album, like "Loves me not" to which she referred by its old name, She loves me. Suddenly both of them started to sing "Zima" which was so cool 'cos I've never heard it before! (I wonder where I can get it..) A difference in their characters was so clear even now when Lena started to shake her head a bit and sing with a smile and Yulia was all calm, but looked to be in good spirit aswell.

But it was clear my experience with t.A.T.u. was about over when the girls ate as quickly as possible (They've practiced, I could tell.) I hadn't even eaten half of my food when they were finished. Yulia stood up, sighed, glanced at me, said "It was nice to meet you" and walked away. Then everyone started to move back upstairs. Lena also stood up, stayed a second longer than Yulia had and said her "byes" as if she really meant it. I walked with this group of people back up and in the hallway Yulia was staring at the "all about us" video and with the very little knowledge of Russian language I have, I understood she was keen to find out if it was an uncut version. It wasn't. People arrived back to small room in pretty much the same order they had earlier left. Lena was the first and Yulia last. Lena rushed to the bathroom before the next interview and as I got my bag and jacket Yulia walked past me with her zombie-eyes to wait for the next interview. I went to the hallway and spent my time putting my jacket on so that I could say "Bye Lena" to the sweet redhead for one last time but I was so aside that she didn't notice me when she came out and I didn't bother yelling to her back as she rushed to sit next to Yulia. "She knows how I feel" I thought to myself and walked down the stairs as the title track D&M was played. Yulia was singing on the street as I took a picture of the cool little screen playing the video. My experience was now over and I was a bit of ashamed that I only had one picture of them but at the end of the day what does it really matter? I met them and will always have the memories.

By Kristoffer for the official forum
September 23, 2005
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