Phoenix: ‘The first time we met R Kelly was on stage’

Band talk about collaboration ahead of recent XFM presents with Ford SYNC studio session

Phoenix have revealed that R Kelly drove for three days to perform with them at this year’s Coachella festival in California, meeting them for the first time on the stage.

The French band were joined by the R&B singer for a special performance of his single ‘Ignition’ mixed with their own ‘1901’ at the US festival earlier this year.

Talking before their Xfm presents with Ford SYNC studio session, frontman Thomas Mars revealed that the collaboration was never rehearsed. “He didn’t come before, he doesn’t fly,” says Mars. “So he drove from Chicago to Palm Springs, three days. Spent 10 minutes on stage, then drove back three days. That was cool.”

Discussing the origins of the collaboration, Mars continued: “Once we had it, we did a little demo of the idea we had, very simple, kind of a combination of his songs and ours. We sent it to him, and actually, he said yes. Then we met him on stage actually.”

Mars says that R Kelly did not stick around for long after the gig ended, describing their time together as a “very brief moment of pure joy.” He added: “He disappeared and I guess drove back. Which is a commitment. For someone to commit six days of their life for 10 minutes on stage, and what a ten minutes they were. He’s working all the time I guess, he has something crazy in his big bus studio. You could feel it was easy for him, it was natural.”

Phoenix will return to the UK for a number of festival appearances this summer, including Reading & Leeds Festivals in August. For more artist sessions head to