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Ryan Lerman of Scary Pockets on trusting the process and viral fame

Ryan Lerman
courtesy of the artist

Ryan Lerman has a few tricks up his sleeve. Best known as the cofounder of Scary Pockets, a dynamic funk band from Los Angeles that came to prominence on YouTube, Ryan is also an accomplished singer-songwriter, bassist, arranger and producer.

His early work with Michael Bublé, John Legend, Vanessa Carlton and Ben Folds prepared him for a career as a session player, and his early solo records showcased his plainspoken, plaintive and soulful connection to the human condition.

Lerman met his Scary Pockets cofounder Jack Conte when the two were still in high school in Marin County, California. It’s a relationship that has informed and influenced him, musically and professionally, ever since. He says that they “tend to be systems-level thinkers” who “focus on the process instead of the outcome.”

That kind of process-oriented approach has paid off. Scary Pockets and Lerman are extremely productive: they have released at least one new video each week since 2017, racking up millions of views and a loyal audience of funk enthusiasts around the world.

They’ve recorded hundreds of songs featuring a continuously rotating lineup of quality musicians and singers. Among their collaborators are many former guests of this podcast including Jacob Collier, Louis Cato, Louis Cole, Tyler Duncan, Joey Dosik, Larry Goldings, Caleb Hawley, Cory Henry, Theo Katzman, Lawrence, Adam Levy, Monica Martin, Jake Sherman, Antwaun Stanley, Jack Stratton, and Cory Wong.

Here he talks about his happy place (“in the middle of business thinking and artistry”), what he learned about leadership by working as a sideman, how tried to become a lawyer but ended up playing funk music instead, and what minor nine chords have to do with any of it.

Leo Sidran is a Latin Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, composer and creative coach. Since 2014 he has hosted an influential podcast called The Third Story, featuring interviews with musicians, producers, songwriters and creators of all kinds.