Matthew Wood has made a full time mission out of sharing his passion for Hip Hop music and dance with youth, and in doing so, being a mentor and positive influence.
Often referred to by his performing name “Creeasian,” Wood is well known in Edmonton’s Hip Hop circles having performed at Inner City High, the International Street Performers Festival, the International Fringe Theatre Festival, HipHop In the Park, iHuman Block party and more.
Wood, 30, was born in Edmonton but grew up in Goodfish Lake. The moniker “Creeasian” came about in 2003 when a friend asked him about his ethnic heritage. Wood said he was Cree and Vietnamese and his friend immediately replied, “Hey, you’re a Creeasian!”
Wood is most often seen Thursday evenings in Churchill Square hosting CypherWild, a youth program of the Edmonton Arts Council, which happens from 6-9 p.m. as long as weather permits. Wood was approached by Bob Rasko, Churchill Square programmer with the Edmonton Art Council, who knew Wood through their joint involvement with the Street Performers Festival.
“He really supported our event and wanted to give us a weekly venue for us to set up and jam. Ever since that first spring we launched three years ago it keeps growing and growing,” said Wood.
Going strong for three years, CypherWild is an interactive family event featuring Hip Hop and breakdancing, as well as live DJs and street art. Wood emphasizes that it has a message of “peace, love, unity, and having fun. We want the youth to know anything is possible. We want to uplift our community together. Everyone plays a role in creating what CypherWild really is, that’s bringing people from all directions together and sharing songs, dances, art, language, stories, teachings. Hip Hop is nothing new, our ancestors were already singing songs, dancing, creating art, speaking their language. What we are doing with CypherWildYEG is reconnecting those traditional teachings and values through modern day music, art, dance, and storytelling.”
Wood will be branching out with an artist residency at Boyle Street Education Centre. He will be working in the music program sharing his DJing, producing, and recording skills with young people from October of this year until February 2015. “I’m really excited to be working in their music lab and maybe also teach dance. It’s what I enjoy most is being able to share my passion for music and dance with the youth.”
Wood credits his mother for taking him to round dances and powwows, and exposing him to music, art, dance, and storytelling from an early age. “I would later be drawn to music from artists like James Brown and Michael Jackson plus my mom had a variety of records at home which were all funk, soul, rock, country, and blues. I would later meet up with other artists/dancers that were from my community: Lee Beaver, James Jones, Jordan Roasting, Shayne Martel, Angela Gladue, Conway K, DJ Dice, Roach, and so many others that really helped me develop my style and what I wanted to do as an artist.”
Wood’s goals are to “continue to dance for peace. I will dance for those who can’t dance; I will dance to heal others, I will dance for those who are sick and for those who have lost loved ones. I still have a long journey and the Creator will tell me my next duty, until then I will continue to do the work I love and fight for our people with music, dance, art, and storytelling.”