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If you couldnít get enough of Ď80s sensation Wham! then hereís a brand new act to look out for. Russian duo Sergey Lazarev, 21 and Vlad Topalov, 19, form Smash!! They talk exclusively to The Record as they tour Asia to promote their eclectic debut Freeway.

The Record: The story of how you started is very interesting. Can you tell us about it?
Sergey: It all started with a song called Belle. Vladís dad was a huge fan of Notre Dame de Paris musical, and so we decided to record one of the musical's arias (Belle) as a birthday present for him. First we read the lyrics in English to understand what the song is about, then found a French teacher and recorded together with him. We recorded it two years ago and it caught the attention of a lot of people and thatís how we started. The album version was recorded in Paris. It was the first single that was released in Russia and it became a huge hit.

TR: How did you meet each other?
Sergey: We are cousins so our parents introduced us. [Laughs] I donít really remember how we first met, but definitely our parents were involved. We were very little at the time and nobody told us how our first meeting went, but I think it was a lot of fun from the first minute. At first we were a bit shy but then became best friends.

TR: How would you describe your music?
Sergey: I think our style is fun, but sometimes a bit sad too, high quality, good pop music! We try very hard to do something original, professional, different from everything else, we want to stand out.

TR: Tell us about your album Freeway.
Sergey: Our debut album Freeway was released in Russia in 2003. We were sort of searching for our unique style in a process of recording and in the end it turned out to be very eclectic. All songs are very different from one another, but they are songs that we like, that we perform with great pleasure. So this album is very fun and positive, thatís my feeling of it. There are songs in French, English and Russian on this album, English is the main language though, 80% of our repertoire is in English. Our album is about relationships between men and women. So about life, about relationships, good relationships, what men feel about itÖ

TR: Why did you decide to record cover version of George Michaelís 'Faith'? Sergey: Many people associate us with Wham! and George Michael probably because there have been no more boy duos since Wham! Also our first manager Simon Napier-Bell used to manage Wham! back in the 80ís. He helped us a lot when we were just starting, helped us to find a concept, nameÖ This year there was a 20th anniversary of Wham! concert in China, and we decided to record this cover of George Michaelís song to commemorate it. Also coincidentally our album was going to be released in Asia this year, so it fit perfectly. Our record company thought it would be great to record this song for us. Wham! was really popular in Asia and itís a very catchy song. We were excited to record it and shoot the video. We like the song a lot, itís fun, we hope it will turn out no worse than the originalÖ

TR: You sing in English. Is that tough for you?
Sergey: Vladís English is better than mine! Apart from that singing in English was a challenge for other Russian artists from our side. No one has ever tried it here but we wanted from the start to do something on a global level and we had always planned to sell our music outside of Russia. The fact that our English language album sold so well was hard to believe, people thought it wonít sell at all!

You can read the rest of our feature on Partners In Rhyme in the August 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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Partners In Rhyme
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