Zedd Talks ACLU Benefit Show & 'Stay' Collaborator Alessia Cara's 'Incredible Vocal Ability'

Nick Walker


“She’s extremely relatable,” the producer says of his “Stay” collaborator Cara.

Zedd is making headlines this month for both his chart-crashing new singles and his socially conscious endeavors. As “Stay,” his new single with Alessia Cara, debuts on the Billboard Hot 100, the EDM luminary is also organizing a star-studded concert to benefit the ACLU, which will take over the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Apr. 3. Welcome!: A Fundraising Concert for the ACLU will feature performances from Camila Cabello, Halsey, Imagine Dragons, Incubus, Skrillex, Bebe Rexha, Tinashe and more.

"It was triggered by the immigration ban,” Zedd tells Billboard of the upcoming benefit. “I saw some of the tweets, I looked into what happened, and I couldn’t quite believe that it was done the way it was done… I wanted this to be a statement. As soon as we booked Staples Center and the date, I started hitting up all of those artists that initially weren’t available — their management would say, ‘It’s a great idea but I don’t think we can make it happen' -- and suddenly, it was possible... people were willing to do it.”

Zedd points out that, because all proceeds from the concert will go to the ACLU, fans should think of the experience as “money you’re donating, and in exchange, you get a free concert.” As someone who was born in Russia and moved to Germany at a young age, the 27-year-old producer says that he feels personally affected by President Trump’s proposed immigration policy, and wants to make a difference on this and several other issues.

"I feel scared about being here and not knowing what’s going to happen,” he admits. "The more things happen, the more I feel better about the fact that I took action and decided to do something. This is not a show against the immigration ban, but for the ACLU, which fights for everybody’s rights and liberties. That will probably include lots of other things down the line, with the way things are happening right now.”

In happier news, “Stay” has started at No. 28 on the Hot 100 chart, giving a sixth top 40 hit to the “Clarity” producer and a third to Cara, following her “Here” and “Scars To Your Beautiful.” Zedd says that he’s been anxious to debut the single, which he describes as "a really interesting mix of the old Zedd and the new Zedd,” and to unveil his first collaboration with one of his favorite new pop artists.

"There are a lot of things about Alessia that everyone, including me, loves,” he says. “She’s got an incredible vocal ability. It doesn’t really matter to me how ‘good’ of a singer someone is —  it matters to me what kind of vocal color they have, and the emotion I get when I hear it. That’s probably her strongest point — she’s extremely relatable. And working with her in the studio was pretty much hitting record and watching her work her magic.”

When will fans get to see Zedd and Cara, who have separately performed “Stay” live since its Feb. 23 release, hit the stage together? "We just started talking about possible opportunities to link up,” says Zedd. "As soon as there is a possibility, we definitely will be performing it together. We’ll find a way."