There’s a wonderful Pitchfork interview with R. Kelly and Phoenix’s Thomas Mars following their Coachella performance and subsequent collaboration that reveals a number of important things: How Kelly likes his Subway sandwiches prepared (“It’s got turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, and extra oil and vinegar”), that director (and Thomas Mars’ father-in-law) Francis Ford Coppola loved “Trapped in the Closet” (“I remember him sitting there in silence for 10 minutes and then saying, ‘This is incredible’”), and that R. Kelly considers Phoenix to be like the Beatles (“But when you have a gift, it’s different than just having talent. [Phoenix] are gifted — they’ve got that Beatles thing going on. You can’t explain it.”).
But how did the two even decide to pair up? Kells explains: “My manager told me, ‘The group Phoenix really love your music and would love for you to come out as a surprise guest out of nowhere and perform.’ I’m like, ‘Huh? I don’t get it. What do you mean?’ An hour later, I’m still saying, ‘I really don’t get it.’”