How Zedd's Star-Studded ACLU Benefit Came Together in 72 Hours
In an interview with Rolling Stone, Zedd shares why he supports the American Civil Liberties Union, and how the upcoming benefit show was organized in just 72 hours.This article originally appeared on Rolling Stone
America is the third country Anton Zaslavski has called home. The Grammy-winning producer, who performs as Zedd, was born in Russia and raised in Germany. He now resides in Los Angeles – in his "studio bubble" – where he’s amassed professional credits that read like the table of contents of a tabloid: Lady Gaga, Kesha, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, to name a few.
The 27-year-old producer is hardly a political artist, but when the Trump administration unveiled the contentious travel ban, the visa-reliant musician felt compelled to do something more visibly empowering than "tweet and donate." En route to his show in Salt Lake City, Zaslavski decided to plan a benefit concert for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He had no experience securing venues or performers. But within three days, he had both.
On April 3rd, 13 acts, including ex-Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello, Imagine Dragons (who are taking a special jet just to attend), Macklemore, Incubus, Tinashe and his bestie Skrillex, will perform at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for free. It’s the largest-scale, youngest-skewing benefit concert organized in North America since the election and the only recent concert organized by a non-U.S. citizen who is also a millennial.
"I think you could get artists to perform for free much more if it's for something that’s connected to the world," Zaslavski tells Rolling Stone. The precocious musician also spoke about his workhorse professional style ("I'm kind of a pain in the ass to work with") and his longtime love of Incubus.
As someone who grew up outside of America, do you feel you have a unique perspective on the travel ban?
To be honest, [the travel ban] hasn’t directly affected me in any way. I also realize we're only a couple weeks into this presidency. But coming from someone who was born in one country, lived in another and then in another – without a visa or a green card – I do feel a personal connection to what's happening. And I like what the ACLU stands for. It's not necessarily anti-Trump. It fights for everyone’s liberties. With this concert, I just want to reach people and make them more aware; let them make their own decisions.
What band are you especially proud of booking for the concert?
It was really important to me that this wasn’t just an EDM show. I wanted the lineup to be multicultural and to have each genre equally represented – some rap, electronic, rock, pop. Skrillex was obviously the first to respond – he’s my best friend. But Incubus, for example, is a band I grew up with. [They were] part of my musical education. I used to watch their Alive at Red Rocks DVD all the time, so I grew up wanting to play that stage the most. "Drive" really grabbed me and my friends. And A Crow Left of The Murder is one of my favorite albums.
The Crow single "Megalomaniac" certainly seems like an appropriate song choice.
Yeah, and do you remember the video? I was really confused by it at the time, but if you go back and watch, it’s more relevant now than when it came out.