Experimental. Electronic. Classical. Jazz. Post-punk. Genres are ubiquitous in music. Artists are defined by a literal sound or musical genus. Some may deem this labeling as legitimization. For With Lions, it’s regulation. No walls or limitations, the East Coast duo is never at the mercy of a particular sound. Changing their genre as they go along, With Lions have amassed an entire library of music to release four, distinct EPs a year.
Formed by vocalists Christian Celaya of Benzos and Lake Trout’s Anthony “Woody” Ranere, With Lions began in 2006 when the two bonded while on tour together. Music school grads, both had a parallel understanding of the technology, production and mixing of music, which connected them beyond their respective band genres. A degree in computer music from Baltimore’s Goucher College and day job creating and producing television and film scores, Ranere produced Benzos’ second album before the two decided to birth With Lions in 2007. Their common thread would soon echo more big and small screen scores moving through everything—industrial, folk, pop, hip hop and beyond—as both produced music for TV (“CSI,” “Nikita,” commercials for the Discovery and Travel Channels), fashion (Victoria’s Secret) and film (“Chasing the Swell”).
Epic and cinematic, each EP is a mini score. Dark, saturated harmonies, With Lions show a different angle per track list, whether it’s a childhood film or a single scene etched in memory. Each collection of soundscapes revisit it all while modernizing classical schemes—the ambience and rawness of 1950s recordings, Ronettes-swelled drumbeats, the industrial synth and stomp of Psychedelic Furs, anthemic Arcade Fire bursts and propulsive Doves- and Muse-inspired sets; Horns and strings even have a place in more orchestral tracks. An indie rock EP one release and homage to Hans Zimmer the next, With Lions capture each frame.
Bonded to their film aesthetic, visuals are just as important as the compositions. Behind the scenes recordings and other “mini films” accompany each release. Less time on the road, multimedia replaces a full tour while licensed tracks infiltrate all outlets. It’s how everything started and part of the bigger With Lions picture for each release. Calling scores the new “radio,” Celaya and Ranere perceive the future of recording music for fans via television, film and beyond—background commercial beats stuck in your head, a sitcom theme song that you’ll hum repeatedly or film scores that will remain imprinted in your memory forever.