Milwaukee band Credentials may just be hitting the public radar, but they’ve been kicking around for a few years. A collection of demos appeared on Bandcamp in May of 2019, and the group played a handful of shows that year as well. Luckily for the city, the pandemic did not crush the group’s momentum; Friday, November 5 sees the official drop of Credentials’ debut album Why Is My Arm Not A Lilac Tree? on Orb Tapes, followed by a release show Friday, November 12 at X-Ray Arcade.

Prior to the release, the band is unveiling its first music video, “Body Builder’s Lament.” Co-directed by Credentials vocalist Sevan Arabajian-Lawson (readers may be familiar with their work as Pleasure Thief and/or with local band NO/NO under their former name, Cat Ries) and bassist Peter J. Woods, the song is the group’s shortest—yet it’s by no means simplistic.

“I had been listening to Extra Life’s album Made Flesh, particularly the song “The Body Is True,” Arabajian-Lawson recalls. “In it, the lyrics talk about the body being true because it dies, and at some point makes reference to lifting weights and combing one’s hair, all these things we do to pretend like we won’t die. So that got me thinking about how exercise, weightlifting, and the culture of body building, when taken to an extreme, act as a way to literally build layers on the body to protect it from vulnerability, which in our culture is seen as a weakness.”

“It touches on a lot of what we do as a band,” says Woods, who brought the music to the group almost fully formed. “Each chunk of the song showcases a different side of what we do and ties it up into this really short package. So we figured if you were going to get an introduction to what we do as a whole, this would be the best place to start.”

Shooting took place at Noise Together, “a soon-to-open recording studio/multi-purpose music space in St. Francis,” says Woods. “It’s going to be super rad.” Filming duties fell to TW Hansen (a.k.a. Economy Superstar), who also directed Platinum Boys’ video for “Downtown.” The driving concept for the “Body Builder’s Lament” video came from Arabajian-Lawson, who drew inspiration from a Japanese dance style known as Budoh; specifically, “how the style of dance which is known for grotesque and strange gestures and forms can help tell the story of forced strength and subdued tenderness,” they say.

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About The Author

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Cal Roach is a writer (here, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and radio DJ (WMSE 91.7 FM) who has lived in Riverwest for most of the past two decades.