Artist to Artist: Getting to know Creeasian [Interview]
Edmonton, AB – With hip-hop being such a wide spread musical genre sometimes it needs to be reminded that the DJ keeps the crowds dancing and heads nodding. Enter DJ Creeasian, hailing from the 780 and repping YEG to the fullest. He is the founder of CypherWild, a weekly free outdoor jam session that has been the heartbeat of hip-hop in the Edmonton area. Live DJs, spinning, open mics and fresh laminate floor board for the b-boys and breakers. Everyone who’s anyone in YEG hip-hop, including myself, has rocked the mic at this open, all-ages event. Keeping hip-hop alive, especially in and for Native communities, is what Creeasian does best. Edmonton stand up and salute the brother Creeasian – our latest Artist to Artist feature.
Interview conducted by Hellnback for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada : What’s good, brother? long time. For the readers who don’t know, explain who you are?
Creeasian: My name is Matthew Wood aka Creeasian
HipHopCanada: Explain what it means to be a DJ in your eyes?
Creeasian: Well, from what I was taught and from being a dancer myself, the DJs job is to keep the people entertained with his or her musical selection. It’s one thing to put a setlist together but it’s most important to be able to read your crowd. You can go in thinking you know your crowd but you should always be prepared to have other selections that can change the energy if it’s needed.
HipHopCanada: You have been an advocate for the solidarity of hip-hop scene in your area. Did you see yourself becoming a staple or are you just doing what you love?
Creeasian: Real talk, I’m just doing what I love to do. It wasn’t ’till later I realized I had a responsibility to be a leader in my community. I started to see the event I host, CypherWild, really take off and see how many people really enjoyed the event but also needed it because it was a place to not only express but also heal.
HipHopCanada: Tell me who influences you personally?
Creeasian: Sounds sappy but my biggest influence would be my late Ma Dukes (Diane Wood). She was very passionate about her bearwork/art. She supported my brothers and I by selling her work at powwows, schools, conferences…you name it. If there was an opportunity for her to hustle her artwork she was there. On some real shit, when she wouldn’t sell her work we wouldn’t eat, so as a young native I was right in the cut trying to help push her work. She taught me to believe in myself and my art and others will see that and also believe in you. Other big influences would be my brothers Lee Beaver, James Jones, Jordan Roasting, Jake Bluhm, Lawrence Prince, Conway K, Leo Letendre, Sean B,Cylis, all original b-boys from my community. They all play a huge role in my life becoming a dancer (b-boy).
HipHopCanada: What was it like being added to famed hip-hop photographer Ernie P’s gallery of photos?
Creeasian: First of all, being shot by Brother Ernie is one thing but then seeing the photo he took posted up in his gallery was on some other level shit! I feel blessed to be featured in his work. He is an elder that plays a very big role in my life. He inspires me to go further with my art not just as an artist but as a human being.
HipHopCanada: How important is it to you that the next generation picks up on your craft? Have the youth been open to the culture?
Creeasian: It’s not so important they pick up on my craft. I’m out to inspire other youth to make their dreams come true. I don’t want kids to just copy and paste what I do, I want to challenge the youth to be creative on their own. None of the kids I work with have to do anything with hip-hop, but if they can take the gifts I share with them and apply it to their everyday lives, at the end of the day I know I’m doing my part as a person, not just as an artist. Youth are fully open to this culture because it speaks their language. What I love most about it is being able to also show the connections of traditional culture and hip-hop. How our ancestors were already doing what we are doing today, just in another form and approach.
HipHopCanada: I have noticed the rise of Natives in hip-hop by adding traditional twist to the culture. Do you feel as artists we get more respect for separating ourselves or following the trends?
Creeasian: Honestly, as an artist it’s all about how you feel and what makes you feel good. You can follow trends all you want but at the end of the day it’s about creating art that makes you feel good. I like to incorporate my culture because that’s what I identify with. I’m not doing it ’cause it’s some trend. I’m a Cree Native, cant help but indigenize my art. My ma duke taught me that from the get go. I do encourage not to pigeon-toe yourself into one style though, think outside the box. Don’t let people tell you what style you are. A Native creator gave us the gift to shape shift but not everyone knows how to tap into that frequency (I’m still learning that gift).
HipHopCanada: Explain CypherWild and it’s impact on the scene in YEG.
Creeasian: CypherWild is the TRUTH!!! On the real though, it plays a big role in the community. Why? Well, what takes some people a whole year to organize, we do every week. It’s not to undermine the work others have done with concerts and festivals but we’re all about building from the inside out. This event was created to bring the people together. It’s blueprint comes off the teachings of the medicine wheel. We need everyone from all directions to be involved in order to have balance. Everyone has a gift, some have more than others or some may not realize they have these gifts and it takes another person to help nurture those gifts to help them grow. The most important thing about CypherWild is creating a safe environment for our youth to have fun without the distractions of alcohol or drugs.
HipHopCanada: What’s more real to you a seasoned DJ using Serato or a new DJ learning off vinyl?
Creeasian: Well, I’m on the fence on this one. It’s really all about using what you have to become an artist that you want to be. The raw part of me thinks, if you want to learn then learn from the beginning with records and get an understanding of the tools you use before taking short cuts such as Serato.
HipHopCanada: Explain your name and how it came about.
Creeasian: Well, it’s not complicated. I’m half Cree (Mom’s side) and I’m half vietnamese (Dad’s side) and one day a good friend of mine asked me what my background was and I told him. He then freaked out and said “WOW! You’re a CREEASIAN”. From then on it’s been my handle. When I was a kid i really hated other Natives saying shit like “you’re a chindian”. I would get into fights because of that, and to set the record straight, I’m not Chinese, I’m Viet.
HipHopCanada: What’s next for Creeasian?
Creeasian: The universe, my Native. It’s all about tapping into these frequencies that our ancestors left for us, they created these waves for us to find and to empower us to not only heal ourselves but others as well. There are also frequencies created to distract us by others that don’t want us to find out about these super human powers that our ancestors and Elders left for us. My goal is to become a super human being that is able to tap into this portal a create Weapons of Mass Creation (not destruction).
HipHopCanada: Who taught you how to beat juggle?
Creeasian: None other then the Triple OG himself, DJ Dice! Edmonton triple OG. Very thankful to have this cat be apart of my life.
HipHopCanada: A DJ’s job back in the day was to “break” records and rock parties. Do you feel DJs still do this? Explain.
Creeasian: With the evolution of DJing, I will say yes. It started to go into a direction that was very watered down and now the real heads are starting to take the steering wheel and drive that mack 10 into terrain that was once forbidden.
HipHopCanada: Any last words?
Creeasian: Peace my Natives. Don’t get caught up in just Native only. Our elders taught us many teachings and one that sticks with me is the medicine wheel. We must except everyone as equal in order to have balance. I take the role as a fire-keeper to keep the fire burning so when the next young Native is searching for the light I will be sitting there waiting to share my gifts that have been passed to me. Becoming a super human being is not being able to fly or shoot laser beams from your eyes. It’s very simple, learn how to help others and also learn how to ask for help when needed.