Zedd needs some clarity about the political unrest in the United States.
As an immigrant himself—he was born in Russia and raised in Germany—the electronic deejay-music producer has firsthand knowledge of how difficult it can be to start a new life in a different nation.
“It’s not like you just go to the country and you’re a part of it,” he tells PEOPLE about his immediate impression of the U.S. He first traveled to the country in 2011 to play a series of concert dates.
“Hearing about how it will be even more difficult for people to come to America and potentially have a fight for a better life for themselves or their families is really disturbing to me.”
While Zedd now calls Los Angeles his home base when he’s not on tour, he encountered an alarming situation upon returning to the States after traveling for a show just weeks ago. Passing through immigration authorities, he came to find he had an ‘x’ on his Global Entry, meaning he had to answer further questions.
“I’m not exactly sure why that happened, but it happened once before, which was a week ago,” he says. “I can’t even imagine how people feel who were directly affected by this ban.”
To protest President Donald Trump’s highly controversial “immigration ban“—which targets specific groups and nationalities from entering the United States—Zedd has partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to throw a concert called WELCOME! in Los Angeles at Staples Center on Friday, April 3, where 100 percent of the profits will be donated to the organization and their efforts to protect human rights.
“It was triggered after I saw some tweets about the immigration ban—that’s how I found out about it,” Zedd says. “I saw Sia and some other people tweet about it and I was really sad to see what was going on, so I just tweeted to a couple artists—Camila Cabello, Sia and Macklemore—and people were really into the idea of doing something like this.”
“It was important for me to do it fast while it was still close to everyone’s minds,” he continues. “It still is a hot topic. I was hoping it wouldn’t be by now, but, unfortunately, it still is.”
“Overall, I don’t want it to be a full on political event,” he says of how he hopes the night will play out. “I want this to be a concert and I want everybody who goes there to enjoy their time. This is more supposed to be a message that all these artists stand by something, and I’m hoping this will mean something to the big platform we have and the responsibility that we, as artists, have with our following.”
Tickets for WELCOME! can be purchased now at axs.com.