James EdmondsonType Designer
OH no Type Co.
After graduating from California College of the Arts, James received a masters from the TypeMedia program at The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Netherlands. He now runs OH no Type Co. and teaches type design in the MFA department at California College of the Arts and in the Type@Cooper West program in San Francisco. Besides that, he’s just trying to have a good time, and make bomb smoothies.
What role does music play in your day-to-day life as a creative?
Lately I’ve gotten really obsessed with Vulfpeck, a band that mines heavily in the “golden age” of funky pop. I always loved Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Abba, Steely Dan, etc. It just happens that the Vulf dudes have similar taste, so the music they make aligns so perfectly with what I like, it feels almost spooky.
I always have music playing while I’m working when I need to pay attention. If it’s mindless work, then I can do a podcast or interview. It helps me stay not bored. Sometimes I need to work in silence too. It’s not like I need music constantly, and often it’s a distraction because I’ll be like, “Who played drums on this?” or “What’s up with that chord change?”
I play a little music, but I wouldn’t call myself a legit musician. I’m fascinated by pop, and the artists that elevate it.
Tell us about your playlist:
Stevie Wonder — If It’s Magic
The only harp on the playlist. Here, Stevie wonders about the hypocrisies of love itself. It leaves me searching for a tempo, which is a sad game for me, as I cannot find one.
Joey Dosik — Competitive Streak
A glaring omission from Dosik’s live shows, Competitive Streak continues his trademark theme, amazingly, without leaving the listener fatigued.
Donny Hathaway — Jealous Guy
I always loved Elliott Smith’s version, then I heard the Hathaway. Further listening: Vulfpeck feat. Charles Jones and Blake Mills cover of the Hathaway version.
Vulfpeck — Wait for the Moment
For anyone not yet tuned into the Vulf, welcome to class.
Luke Levenson & Abbey Smith — Smoke
Smith’s vocal leave me asking, “What was THAT?” Truly a gift to the universe.
Vulfpeck — Santa Baby
Can you have more than one Vulf song on a playlist? I can’t not. Spoiler alert: This is just the beginning.
Blake Mills — If I’m Unworthy
Sometimes my older brother used to say, “I have more skill and experience in the tip of my pinky than you will ever have in your entire body.” Good thing Blake Mills wasn’t my older brother, or else he’d be correct. Check his pinky in this video. Incredible.
Joni Mitchell — California
In grad school, homesick for my home state, this song would nearly bring me to tears. Joni at her absolute best. Live version also OFF THE HOOK. Dulcimer come on. The left hand rhythm KILLING IT.
White Denim — New Coat
These guys are crazy and I’m surprised they are not a household name. Unbelievable playing, and songwriting. Some of the best rock and roll drums.
Vulfpeck — A Walk to Remember
Joe Dart on the Fender bass absolutely demolishing. A streamlined rhythm section on a five minute joy ride. Some of my favorite bass from Joe.
Vulfpeck — Rango II
That’s correct, the fourth track from Vulf. This time, feature Blake Mills taking his Strat to the holy land.
Jim Croce — You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.
My theme song. Excellent backing vocals from Ellie Greenwich and Tasha Thomas.
Mystikal & Mark Ronson — Feel Right
While Uptown Funk enjoyed roughly thirty years on the charts, no one paid attention to this bangin’ homage to James Brown. I don’t get it.
Bill Withers — I Wish You Well
An underrated Withers tune that I would like all my exes to listen to, for the wah pedal, not the lyrics.
Vulfpeck — Back Pocket
All I can say is THREE PART clarinet solo in the outro expertly executed by Mark Dover. I friended Mark on Facebook to ask him about this, and all he said was, “It was Jack [Stratton]’s idea for me to do a clarinet trio! He had the concept for a clarinet trio and asked me to play. How he had the vision for that I have no idea. He’s just a genius like that.
Stevie Wonder — I’m Wonderin’
As much as I’m in love with Songs in the Key of Life and other later Stevie, the early stuff is too perfect to ignore. Beautiful strings arrangement and harmonica solo.
Wilco — Hummingbird
Perhaps my favorite chord progression of all time. It’s a journey that reminds me you can never step in the same river twice.
The Beatles — Martha My Dear
This remains the only song I can play on piano, and I can’t really play it.
EMEFE — Stutter
An amazing brass band that is sadly no longer. In any case, I have never heard anything like this, and probably will never again.
Vulfpeck — Cory Wong
For the recording of Vulf’s second full length release, they brought in Minneapolis’ foremost Stratocaster slayer, Cory Wong. This song sets the stage for his signature strumming, and toggles between live and studio performances in an unusual and compelling way. It’s the last track on that album, so it felt like a nice ending here.
- If It’s Magic – Stevie Wonder
- Competitive Streak – Joey Dosik
- Jealous Guy – Donny Hathaway
- Wait for the Moment – Vulfpeck
- Smoke – Luke Levenson, Abbey Smith
- Santa Baby – Vulfpeck
- If I’m Unworthy – Blake Mills
- California – Joni Mitchell
- new coat – White Denim
- A Walk to Remember – Vulfpeck
- Rango II – Vulfpeck
- You Don’t Mess Around with Jim – Jim Croce
- Feel Right – Mark Ronson, Mystikal
- I Wish You Well – Bill Withers
- Back Pocket – Vulfpeck
- I’m Wondering – Stevie Wonder
- Hummingbird – Wilco
- Martha My Dear – Remastered – The Beatles
- Stutter – EMEFE
- Cory Wong – Vulfpeck