Interview w/ talented French DJ/producer, Playin' 4 The City.

Playin’ 4 The City is a French house DJ/producer Olivier Portal. It all started in 1996 with Olivier’s first release under this alias. In 1998, Olivier formed the “Playin’ 4 the City Collective” which consisted of various talented musicians & vocalists. Their reputation enabled them to do live tours around the world at the time.

Right now Plastik People is the main output for his deep & soulful influenced productions.

His latest remix project for Underground Collective – Power of The Drum & label release Playing EP are both out now at Traxsource & with that we caught up with Olivier to chat about Playin’ 4 the city’s history, the gear used within the productions & so much more in this Traxsource Exclusive Interview.

The Interview

1) Hi Oliver, tell us a bit about yourself and the inception of “Playin 4 The City”…

I released my first maxi under the moniker ‘Playin’ 4 The City’ in 1996 as I have a love for House Music drenched in Soul & Funk music, influenced by the godfathers from New York, New Jersey and of course Chicago. Also in the same year, I created ‘Straight-up Records’ with my pal Betino Errera. Among the many artists that can be found on the label, there are; The Deep (Dj Deep & Julien Jabre), Next Evidence, Republic 61 (Cyril K & Mike L), Funk Force Project (Dj Deep & O Portal), Frank Roger, Sun Orchestra, T Boys, Dj Roy, Atsilut, Shades of Soul and Playin’ 4 The City.

In 1998, following an invitation from Cyril K, I made my first live appearance at the What’s up Bar in Paris. The success of that led to a residency at the ‘What’s up’ alongside Dj Mike L., then called “Atmosfear”. During that same period, I co-hosted the ‘Future Funk’ and ‘Vynil Maniak’ shows on Radio Nova with Loik Dury and “Karl the Voice” and set up the ‘Playin’ 4 the City Collective’.

The group consisted of Karl the Voice, Frederic Melosax, Nicole Graham, Mandel Turner, Janice Leca, Marilyn David, Leddie Garcia, among many others. The collective toured around the world and started a residency at the Mad Bar in Chicago. It also gave me the opportunity to release two records on the Chicago-based Music 101 label and to meet some great people like Arman, Dj Mel Hammond, Frank Orr (8fat/Poi Dog), Kenny Carvajal, Kahil el Zabar, Diz, Derrick Carter and more.

2) How did you come up with the name” Playin’ 4 The City” that we now all know and love?

It’s simple. We live for the city and play for the city. Soul music and nightlife are together!
We were considered in our city to be urban musicians, so that’s where I came up with Playin ’4 the City. 

It would have been clearer to sign my productions “Olivier Portal” but P4TC has always been associated to live with ‘Karl the Voice’ or other singers.

3) Where does your wonderful musical background come from?

I am the son of musicians (Classical, Jazz & Contemporary music). There was always jazz musicians at home, but I educated myself by listening to Rock and Jazz fusion in the 70’s (drummer in a parisian rock band at this time) soul and modern jazz in the 80’s, hip hop, drum & bass and of course house music in the 90’s. 

If you remove the beat in my tracks you hear a bit of everything. 

4) You use a lot of hardware equipment in your productions. Can you list a few of your favourites:

I love my G16 S Fostex 16 tracks recorder and I also use a Tascam Dm 3200
. Ihave a Mac OSX 10.8.6 running Logic Pro 9, an MPC 2000 sequencing the E-MU 5000 Ultra and an E-MU ESI 4000 along with the Ensoniq ASR 10 for the strong warmth. I use a Roland VP 330 for the strings, a Moog Voyager and a Animoog for Ipad (a super cat synth!), NI Maschine’s MK2 for any add-ons and some amazing plug-ins like “The Mouth NI “, “Izotope Iris” & “Arturia Analog Lab”.

5) Who are some of your favorite artists and DJ’s you’ve seen play over the years?

I’ve seen great concerts from David Bowie in the 70’s, Miles Davis and Prince several times in the 80’s & some of the best DJ’s during the 90’s like Francois K, Joe Claussel, Louie Vega, Danny Krivit, DJ Harvey & Anthony Nicholson.

6) Whats your all time favorite P4TC release?

“This Road”, because i think it’s the only deep house track in 7/4 bar, and it’s a non-sense.

“The Shore” for the inspired soprano sax.
  • “More Than Ever” because it reminds me a lot of fun I’ve had with “Karl The Voice” and Loik Dury at Radio Nova Paris. That was a great period!!!

7) What are some of your all time favorite artist, tracks & albums?

• Bitches Brew – Miles Davis.
• Frank Zappa and the Mothers – Roxy and Elsewhere.
• The Beatles – The White Album.
• Aja – Steely Dan
• Plantation Lullabies – Meshell Ndegeocello.

Playin’ 4 The City latest remix for Underground Collective’s release “Power Of The Drum” is out now on Traxsource.

Playin’ 4 The City latest release “Playing EP” is out now on Traxsource.

Playin’ 4 The City artist, label pages on Traxsource.

Playin’ 4 The City

Plastik People