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This funk cover band is a "party in a video"
Why you should follow Scary Pockets
Here’s the first segment from Friday’s episode with Switched on Pop co-host Charlie Harding. Warning: He is absolutely correct, and Scary Pockets videos are delightfully addictive. Do NOT miss the Daft Punk cover near the end.
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ERIC: Your first pick is in the category, "someone who makes the internet a better place". And you said Scary Pockets, which is on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @scarypockets.
This is a funk band. I had never heard of them, but I realized that I have actually met one of the people who's in it. But first, let's talk about the band. What's the deal with Scary Pockets and why do you love it so much?
CHARLIE: Scary Pockets, I think, are the most fun cover band on the internet. They are a mashup of so many different concepts that are so well executed. A, cover songs on YouTube: Wildly successful. Very well done, cover songs in a funk style: Even more successful.
And then add in some of the Internet's best musicians. Some of these people that we were talking about before, maybe they don't have millions of followers, but they might have hundreds of thousands or tens of thousands, thousands, and they are wildly talented. What Scary Pockets does is they take a well-known song, bring in special guests to join the amazing house band, which is made up of some of the best session musicians and players in Los Angeles.
Then you get this special guest who brings in their own audience. And every single video, you're gonna get an amazing cover of a song you love. Like, I love The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army version that features Elise Trouw, who is one of my favorite YouTube creators.
So you put this all together and it's just the best party in a video that you can find. And if you ever actually need a playlist of totally party-safe music, you just throw on any Scary Pockets music in the background, and everyone's going to be happy.
ERIC: You mentioned that these are really talented session musicians. Could you briefly define, what is a session musician?
CHARLIE: A session musician is someone who is remarkably talented, who can play basically anything, and gets pulled into recording sessions — usually in the major music cities, so Los Angeles, Nashville, Atlanta, New York, London — when another major artist needs, "Hey, I need some drums on this song and we don't have a drummer in our band."
They call in a session musician. Session musicians often play on thousands and thousands of records and they never get the credit that they deserve, but they are behind the things that you love.
ERIC: A lot of these session musicians and special guests who appear in these videos ... and then there are two permanent members of Scary Pockets, Ryan Lerman and Jack Conte. And depending on your bubble, you might know Jack as the CEO of Patreon or from his other band, Pomplamoose.
How did you get introduced to Scary Pockets? Was it through one of those musicians, or one of the session musicians? How did you become a fan?
CHARLIE: It was through Jack, because I had followed his original band, Pomplamoose, and they did a lot of really fun covers. They also did a lot of original material. Maybe it's a little more laid back or tame? It's the mellower version of Scary Pockets, and the energy of Jack Conte, who I don't know exactly how he works today, but at one point he was only making a salary as a creator on Patreon, even though he was also the CEO. He's an amazing pianist and he's a ball of joy to watch.
So he created Scary Pockets and I inevitably was going to start following it. But it's more like it keeps finding me, because of all of these other guests that they have on the show or songs that I like. It's algorithmically very successful, I think, because it's just always in the constellation of other things that I like and then it gets recommended to me again and again.
ERIC: Yeah, the YouTube algorithm. It will keep on hunting you forever. How does Scary Pockets make the internet a better place? And what is something that the rest of us can learn from their example?
CHARLIE: Ooh. Primarily, that it's just fun. The people who are participating in it are full of ecstatic joy. That's sort of the starting place, and then it adds on the fact that they are savvy and know everything that they're doing, I think, very effectively. Such that when they do these sessions, they bank a ton of songs. They do a ton of songs in a single recording, so that they have a bunch of video to put out over time because it's very highly produced, which is expensive.
So they figured out how to make something very good in a reasonable way. I think that just very talented people having a good time translates really well for me. It's not too serious, it's very silly, but it's really good.
ERIC: Generally the best way, if you're a, to use the word again, "content creator" online, and you're trying to keep costs down, you can do something by yourself or you can do what I'm doing, where I interview a different person, or what you and Nate do where you're two co-hosts. And sometimes it's just the two of you on the episode.
That's the classic way of keeping costs down. But I love the Scary Pockets' model of, "No, we are going to bring in these extremely talented folks you haven't heard of, and we are going to commit to that as the model for these videos."
CHARLIE: There's not a lot of people that play effectively to the algorithm, where I think that the algorithm somehow enhances the material that they make. And yet, I think they've threaded this needle, where actually this is just what I want. And it serves the YouTube algorithm very successfully.
I don't mean to be a total cynic, but I find that my TikTok algorithm has a very particular aesthetic, which doesn't give a lot of space for long-form thought-out discourse, which is why I love podcasts. And the format is not meant for that. And so instead, we get a lot more irony and silliness and fun, all things that I also want in my life.
But the algorithm often, I think, leads towards formats that ... the medium is the message, if you will. And I think in the case of Scary Pockets, they have married those things effectively.
ERIC: Definitely. Well, before we move on to your next follow, I just want to jam for 30 seconds. Other than Seven Nation Army, which you mentioned earlier, what's another Scary Pockets song that you love? And what makes it so great?
CHARLIE: Oh my gosh. Well, now we just have to go look at them because they're countless. I watch them all the time! I just watched a cover of Julia Michaels' Issues the other day, which I loved.
I'm just scrolling through the ones that I have recently viewed.... A, there's way too many. Now, I actually just want to go and watch all of them.
ERIC: We're gonna pause the podcast for two hours while we all go catch up on Scary Pockets.
CHARLIE: Okay, here's my favorite one. My favorite video is their version of Daft Punk's Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Done on a rooftop, and the lead player is playing talk box, which is where you put this funny tube in your mouth and you play a keyboard, and it makes this wild sound.
It's like Daft Punk, who, when they made their 2013 album Random Access Memories, pulled back all of the electronics, and were like, "Actually, we're a disco band." The version that Scary Pockets does is like, "Well, actually, Daft Punk is a funk band." It's the best.
ERIC: Well, that was Scary Pockets, which is on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @scarypockets.