Songbird Ami Saraiya is no stranger to the Chicago music scene, as former lead vocalist for indie pop group Radiant Darling and R&B outfit Pelvic Delta. The singer-songwriter returns to the scene bearing her accordion and guitar and backed by bassist Marc Piane, violinist Ronnie Kuller, vocalists Shirley Rogiers and Courtney Glascoe, drummer Ben Miranda, and guitarist Gary Kalar. Saraiya’s music career developed early, as the young chanteuse was classically trained in piano and attended Indiana University for music. Today, Ami Saraiya and the Outcome serve up surreal and folk-fierce jazz, having debuted their collaborative talents in 2009 with Archaeologist, featuring singles “Vegas Moon” and “Sour Mash.” The band released Soundproof Box in June 2012, kicked off with “I’m Pregnant,” followed by “Heart Shaped Locket.”
Following her 2009 debut LP The Archaeologist, Chicago songstress Ami Saraiya is back with 2012's Soundproof Box, which features her backing band, the Outcome. Musically, it's an eclectic mix drawing inspiration from everything from vintage cabarets, to folk-punk, to jazz. Thematically, it's surreal and darkly theatrical. We asked Saraiya to shed light on the inspiration behind the album's first track, "I'm Pregnant." Read on for her explanation:
Chicago's Ami Saraiya & the Outcome is a group that embraces all things theatrical, from their vintage cabaret-inspired tunes to their surreal lyrical imagery. "I'm Pregnant," the lead track off of their June 2012-released album Soundproof Box, is a perfect example of this. And we have the group's front woman, Ami Saraiya herself, to explain why. Read on to find out more about the inspiration of the song:
"I get a lot of shocked responses when people hear the title of the first track, “I’m Pregnant”. No, it’s not completely auto-biographical. I’ve never been preggers before. But I think it’s more about myself wondering what it might be like to be pregnant and comparing it to experiences and thoughts I’ve had about the matter. I remember one day sitting with my accordion thinking this must be a little of what it feels like to be with child. Carrying this weight, widened torso. I started playing a rhythmic Lamaze-like pushing and pulling of the bellows and words started to flow with the melody I was improvising. Weird images about being pregnant appear - remembering a conglomerate of 80s sitcom episodes where the fumbling soon-to-be-dad is in the delivery room with the birthing mom. She’s grabbing him by the shirt, angry as hell, and blaming her insufferable pain on the man who did this to her. Or also the thought of being pregnant with an idea you've conceived and learning to be patient, to sit with it and let it grow like a fetus in the womb. Then, looking at what you’ve created after it’s developed inside you for months and seeing it for the first time - this indescribable connection to something that was part of you, but now completely separate.
It definitely took some time to develop the lyrics and make them coherent enough. Then, the work of making that all fit into a pop song format. Musically, I usually don’t have to work as hard, although finding the right chord progression can sometimes be challenging.
And that’s a little about the birth of “I’m Pregnant”. -Ami Saraiya