LaMotte turns to Web to fund new album


Black Mountain-area resident, musician and peace activist David LaMotte is making his first CD in 10 years and hoping the public gets behind the $36,300 in production costs.

Raising the money through a Kickstarter campaign (, LaMotte has three more weeks to go to raise the money for the album, “The Other Way Around.” If he doesn’t make it, all the costs fall on him. Either way, he’s going ahead with the album.

Question: You’ve said this is your most ambitious project ever? Why do you say that?

LaMotte: Honestly, I think it’s my most ambitious project by almost any metric — artistically, in terms of the genres of the songs and my own stretching as a musician - interculturally, involving musicians from all over the world; logistically, coordinating all of these different studios, etc.; financially, it’s easily the most expensive record I’ve made. It’s quite a collaboration. My name will be on the record, but it’s much bigger than that.

Why do you say the CD reflects the richness of the last 10 years of your life?

In that decade, I’ve become a father, had most of the years of my marriage, moved to Australia and got a master’s degree there, moved to India to do field study for that degree, become more involved in some public issues that I’m passionate about (and therefore been arrested a couple of times), published a couple of books, worked with the AFSC Nobel Peace Prize Nominating Committee, done a lot of public speaking, made my first trips to Africa and the Middle East and many, many trips to Europe and spent a lot of time in Guatemala, running the nonprofit that (wife) Deanna and I started in 2004. It’s been quite a decade.

Musicians from every continent except Antarctica play on the CD. How did you manage that?

Most of the international musicians are friends of mine that I connected with in my travels. A couple we found through mutual friends. There is one song I wrote in El Salvador that has a Latin sound, ), and we wanted a Latin-style accordion sound. So Chris Rosser, one of the two (album) producers, contacted Finn Magill, an extremely talented young musician from this area who is now living in Brazil. He put us in touch with Tibor Fittel, who recorded a beautiful part on the song. Tom Prasada-Rao, the other producers, happened to know Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd, who recorded an electric guitar part for the one full-on rock song on the album.

Where and how did you meet these musicians?

To tell the stories of how I met each of them would make for a small book. But the one that moves me most is the story of Pepe Patzán, from El Tejar, Guatemala.

I met Pepe in 2007, when my nonprofit, PEG Partners, began a music program for children in El Tejar, Guatemala, in partnership with LEAF International. Pepe, a skinny 12-year-old boy with a big and ready smile, was in the founding class at that school. He stayed in the program for five years, and each year I watched him get better and better at more and more instruments. By the time he graduated, he was solid on at least bass, drums, guitar, mandolin, keyboard, and marimba, which is considered the national instrument of Guatemala. He was very good, and ended up getting a full-ride scholarship to the music conservatory in Guatemala City. His family didn’t have the bus fare for him to ride to the city five days a week, though, so PEG paid his way. Last November, he graduated, and now, at age 20, he is a licensed music teacher, and he plays in three different bands. I asked him if he would play the marimba part on Angelita, a song I wrote in Guatemala, about Guatemala.

How do all the songs hang together? What unites them?

The album is fundamentally hopeful, but it’s not “thin” hope, which is rooted in looking away from the darkness in the world. It is more rooted in “thick” hope, which sees human capacity for violence, avarice, cowardice and cruelty, but also sees the human capacity for compassion, courage, and insight, and decides in the end that the latter are stronger.

Will you make the CD if you don’t raise the entire $36,300?

At this point, yes, I’m deeply committed to making the record, and I will make it no matter what. That said, I have put almost all of the expenses so far onto credit cards (which could be considered either brave or foolish, I suppose). Understandably, banks don’t consider projects like this particularly safe bets. The way that Kickstarter works, there will be no funding at all unless we meet the goal. So if it doesn’t work, I will literally be paying the project off for years. I lead a pretty simple life financially, and I’ve been able to be a professional musician for 25 years primarily by keeping a pretty low overhead.

I’m fabulously rich in all of the ways that matter to me, but financially is not among those, so it’s a pretty big gamble. I’ve always felt extraordinarily supported as an artist, though, and my gut says that this will work out.

To contribute to LaMotte’s project, visit