The group Ступени (pronounced stoopyeni) (Steps) formed in 2000, and consists of two artists: Nastia Makarova (songwriter) and Eliena Bielkina (flautist). Makarova was born in Nortilsk, where she performed as accompanist for various musicians. She supported Yegor Lietov in his concert in Nortilsk. In 1997 she moved to St Petersburg for her education, where she met Michail Bashakov in 1999. Bashakov noticed her, and she joined his band providing backing vocals. At that time he performed at an underground club, Зоопарк (The Zoo), where the careers of many well-known musicians began.