Quotes

“The only trouble with writing about Alexis and the Samurai is the struggle for superlatives. In my opinion, they are a classic Crescent City treasure of the future.”

New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Onstage, the time spent together is obvious. Since they share keyboards and percussion instruments while performing, their stage set-up keeps them close together, and they do have the kind of easy, idiosyncratic banter and performance style that only comes with really knowing each other.”

My Spilt Milk

“Alexis is a songwriting force to be reckoned with.”

No Depression

“Alexis and the Samurai are lush and emotionally charged with a distinct New Orleans imprint.”

Offbeat Magazine

About Alexis & The Samurai

Though Alexis & the Samurai released their debut in 2011, the New Orleans duo’s new LP Move Into View is sort of a second first album. After experimenting with their sound and collaborating with an array of other musicians on 2011’s Orange Moon, Alexis Marceaux and Sam Craft stripped the folk-pop band back to its essential elements: themselves. She sings and plays guitar and percussion on Move Into View, while he plays violin, guitar, keyboards, percussion and, in a change for the pair, sings lead vocals.

“The first one was definitely more of a fact-finding mission,” Craft says of making Orange Moon, which the band recorded after returning home to New Orleans several years after Hurricane Katrina. “This is our first album as a duo, and we’re a well-oiled machine.”

They’d have to be: in addition to playing all the instruments themselves on Move Into View, Marceaux and Craft tour as a duo, meaning they do the same thing onstage. “We wanted to have this sound, and this diverse spectrum of sounds, and be able to take it on the road quickly and easily. So we learned to multitask and play several instruments at the same time,” Craft says.

It makes for lush listening on these 10 new songs: there’s an exuberant blend of synthesizers and guitars on opener “Swamp Fire,” a sturdy, insistent rhythm as Marceaux and Craft trade vocals in French on “Parlez-Nous à Boire,” and bright, surging piano over an intricate drum part on “Stuck,” which the duo worked up in the car while caught in traffic on the way to a gig.

“We wrote the percussion on the dashboard,” Marceaux says. “I remember thinking, ‘I’m ready to play this live. I could play this tonight.’”

Performing everything as a duo has pushed Marceaux and Craft in new directions as songwriters. Both are classically trained musicians (voice for her; composition and violin for him) who have channeled their training into a catchy indie-pop sound. They build songs from scratch in the studio, each bringing in ideas that they work on together. “We don’t leave any stone unturned in the writing process,” Craft says. “We start off with doing what we know we can do,” before seeing just how far they can push themselves, a process aided by a weekly residency in New Orleans where they try out new music.

The songs are born of the musicians’ own experiences. Marceaux began writing the somber and pointed “Shut Up” after an unsettling incident where a stranger was following her in a car, for example, while “Swamp Fire” draws on the pair’s shared past as friends, then romantic partners, and now just bandmates.

“There’s a lot of autobiographical stuff going on,” Craft says. “It gives us a lot of material, and that’s beneficial. It was a songwriting boon that we got over our breakup.”

Adds Marceaux, “We’re really close, we’re best friends. Hurting each other’s feelings isn’t really a thing that happens, and if it does come up, we talk about it and deal with it. It took a while to get to that place.”

As friends, and as bandmates, it’s a place they’re planning to stay. “This record is a lot more dynamic, and I think the writing is more intelligent,” Craft says. “I just think it sounds more cooperative.”

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