By Ann Marie Trietley, Music Columnist:
With the drum-n-bass and dubstep scenes becoming more ubiquitous by the day, the DJs who were at the forefront years ago may be tempted to sit back and soak it all in. Not Robert Matthews, also known as DJ Big Basha. The founder of Frosty Tone Entertainment (FB) is always evolving and growing along with the movement that he helped create.
“I was one of the first people who started putting dubstep into my sets,” said Matthews, long wisps of hair escaping from the bottom of his backwards cap, twirling an orange lighter in his hands. “I fell in love with it, like I fell in love with jungle. I learned about DJing from the movie ‘Juice’ when I was 11 years old; seeing the turntablism was captivating to my young mind.”
Now, as Matthews stares into a glass terrarium perched atop his kitchen counter at his recently acquired pet lizard, he reminisces about his teen years spent clubbing in the West Seneca nightclub scene, days when he would listen to his dad’s Cream and Genesis vinyl, Nine Inch Nails, and the occasional Juvenile track somewhere in between.
“We started going to raves, and before I knew it, I was into house,” Matthews said. “I got into trance, jungle. I would download all the big tracks, make five CDs and sell the packs at school. I would actually make a couple bucks; I was literally trying to turn people on to the music.”
Today he’s prepping for an all-day show in Springville, as a few of his friends come and go from his apartment.
“I’ve been resurfacing with a fresh look for Frosty Tone,” Matthews said. “Now I’m making sure what I do is precise and legit.”
Several vinyl records stare down from Matthews’ living room walls, and there’s thousands more hidden behind the scenes: Notorious B.I.G’s “Ready to Die,” The Beastie Boys’ “Paul’s Boutique,” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Midnight Marauders” to name a few. Matthews has managed to blend hip-hop into his dubstep sets seamlessly. He’s cementing a name for himself within Buffalo’s nightlife scene, alongside longtime collaborator and MC, Demi God.
“Hip-hop and jungle are the same beat per minute and they go together easily,” Matthews said. “That’s where my take on electronic music came from, just trying to put it on the map in the neighborhood.”
Matthews got into DJing officially around 1999, by going to parties dominated by house music. Back in 2004 and 2005, the seeds of Frosty Tone Entertainment were sown while Matthews was spinning sets at 654, a Main Street venue which unfortunately has shut its doors.
Matthews secured a Thursday night set that MNM Presents used to put on there called The Return.
The owner eventually asked Matthews to take over, and as he says, it was “the start of a new era for the area.” That’s when he started focusing on drum-n-bass a lot. He also brought in out-of-town DJs and bands.
“I didn’t expect to be thrown shows right away; but when I started playing, people wanted me to organize them, too,” Matthews said.
Then he did a show at Opium Lounge, which hosted a lot of drum-n-bass shows. He became a resident DJ there, hosting weeklies, monthlies and one-offs.
“The Opium Lounge era was definitely the most exciting era for drum-n-bass for me,” Matthews said. “From 2005 to 2008, he [Brian Nelson, owner of Opium Lounge] had some of the biggest names in drum-n-bass and it put Buffalo on the map. Now it’s a lot more unfocused. Everything is more spread out, but the locals are more active.”
You can experience DJ Big Basha every Wednesday night at Broadway Joe’s (3051 Main Street), or once a month at OHM Ultra Lounge (948 Main Street). His next show there will be October 12 alongside Cotti and Stench Man, who fall into the “grime” sub-genre of dubstep.
“I’ve always taken my time and been patient,” Matthews said. “I’m not looking to rush into anything.”
“Like” DJ Big Basha and Frosty Tone Ent on Facebook, and listen to Basha’s latest mixtape on Mix Cloud at MixCloud.com/tag/big-basha.
Photo Caption: Matthews ponders life at home in his studio.