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TALK: Tim Fite

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Next week, alternative-hip-hop-country twanger Tim Fite will release his brand new album, Fair Ain’t Fair (Anti-). Over the last couple years Fite has been wowing critics with both his full-length debut album, Gone Ain’t Gone, and his free-to-the-public, hip-hop album, Over The Counter Culture–which was chock full of thoughtful wit and social commentary.

(left: The hilarious, is-he-being-serious, is-he-not-being serious Tim Fite.)

Fite has developed a Pee Wee Herman-like talent for disguising his messages behind scribbled artwork and childlike behavior. Once you figure out what the big kid is up to, you realize he isn’t so childish after all.

Jim Shearer: Your new album, Fair Ain’t Fair, is coming out on May 6. In the past, you’ve created instrumentals by taking bargain bin CD’s and sampling them? Are you doing that for this album?

Tim Fite: Yes and no. There is definitely stuff from the bin and there is a lot more. I went and got people with real instruments and friends of mine to play and make it bigger and grander, and kind of started messing with other things besides thievery.

Jim: Speaking of thievery, have any of these artists, on the bargain bin CD’s, discovered that they were being sampled by you?

Tim: Yes. Some do, some don’t, some get asked and say “yes,” some get asked and say “no,” some don’t get asked and don’t have the choice of saying “yes” or “no.” But those folks shall remain nameless.

Jim: When you are sampling from these CD’s and you hear a good loop, do you ever get frustrated when vocals will come in right at the end of a measure?

Tim: It is not the singing. It is the breathing.

Jim: The breath before the next measure?

Tim: There needs to be less breathing and singing.

Jim: So arists–at least for your sake–shouldn’t start breathing or singing until the second measure?

Tim: Just lag a little, do some Sinatra. Is he early or late? I can’t remember.

Jim: I heard a story once where some record label people wanted Michael Jackson to cut out the long intro of “Billie Jean,” and he said it needed to be there cause it was the “jelly” of the song. Seems like this kind of tune would be ideal for you.

Tim: That’s right, intros are the bread and butter of sample musicians.

Jim: You said that you haven’t even heard your new album, Fair Ain’t Fair, because you had it outsourced to India and China. Is this correct?

Tim: Yes, just going with the general trend of globalization and, you know, why do all the work myself when I could have someone else do it for much cheaper.

Jim: (laughs) There could be some lead in the CDs.

Tim: Small amount of lead, but it should be safe, you know. Just don’t let your children lick it.

Jim: Your last album, Over the Counter Culture, was given out for free on the interent, because you said you would feel like a hypocrite if you had a social commentary on consumerism and made people pay for it.

Tim: Yes.

Jim: But how do you survive? How does Tim Fite get paid? Because you still need to put food on your table.

Tim: That’s a hard question to answer. I don’t really know how it works out, you know. Be frugal. If you are frugal and you don’t buy a lot of stuff, you don’t need to make a lot of money. It’s the nature of the beast–the more you make the more you want. So if you don’t make that much you can’t want that much, and you kind of get by.

Jim: Do you want a touring band?

Tim: I would love to have a touring band. But for now it is all good with me and Dr. Leisure.

Jim: But you said you can’t afford a touring band at this point in time?

Tim: No, because they cost money.

Jim: How can we get you some money?

Tim: Send me money.

Jim: Is it easier to convey political and social commentaries being more childlike than militant?

Tim: I think there is a time and a place for everything, you know? You can be angry and grown up and you could be childish and silly and still be making a difference. Children make a difference every day just by being here, and adults make a difference every day, [but] a lot of times the adults’ contribution is negative, so sometimes it’s best to just be a child because it is harder to be bad.

Jim: Are there any artists that you are tired of being compared to?

Tim: Um, Salvador Dali.

Jim: (laughs) The famous artist–hmmm. Explain.

Tim: He is in everybody’s dorm room.

Jim: (laughs) What about the Beck comparisons?

Tim: Beck is a good. He is a good singer and makes good songs. People need to make comparisons in order to understand the world, and if that’s the way they got to do it, then that’s the way they got to do it.

Jim: Last night you and Dr. Leisure ended the show by wearing black-and-gold Barack Obama t-shirts. Where did you get those from?

Tim: Oddly enough in a convenience store in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Jim: Will you vote for Barack Obama? What if he wanted you to play some shows on the campaign trail?

Tim: We just like the shirts.

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But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

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Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

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Lane 33: Twins

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Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

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Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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