By Frank Bell

D:Ream, one of the leading UK house acts, are back after a fourteen-year hiatus. The pair recently returned to the public consciousness during the pandemic when Things Can Only Get Better was blasted throughout Nottingham when clapping for key workers each week. It seems fitting that this is the band to whom we return in the midst of global upheaval and national apathy. We caught up with DJ Al McKensie to find out more…

Hi Al! How have you been coping over the last year?

It’s been a bit strange. The novelty of spending time at home with my feet up wore off after a few months so got on with getting the new D:Ream album finished with Peter. That definitely helped me enormously.

What was your response to ‘Things Can Only Get Better’s resurgence in Manchester?

We’re always really chuffed when it’s used positively. We have, kind of, passed that track on to the public to use as they will. Thankfully, they seem to be using it as a gee up and to spread a positive message. 

Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s been like as a DJ during lockdown? A complete absence of in-person nightlife has to have been really tough!

It’s been a complete nightmare. The obvious loss of wages goes without saying. However, the social side of it has been a major loss. I do enjoy a good night out! I have been doing my radio show on 1btn which has kept me in the loop and spending a fortune on new music though. 

What are your plans for summer, when the album comes out?

Getting back to gigging and celebrating being number 1 again. (or perhaps not!)

What were the inspirations behind the music and lyrics on this upcoming release?

We’ve gone back to our original dance pop roots. Not trying to be too self indulgent and keeping things short and sweet for the listener. No negativity with the lyrics. I think we’ve had enough of that over the past year or so…

What music and releases have you been enjoying in 2021 so far? What would your dream collaboration be this year?

I listen to a lot of electronic music. I have to in order to keep my show up to date. Labels like Hoga Nord, Baikal Nomads, and Akashi Mix are favourites. I intend on bringing Kate Bush out of retirement!! That would be lovely.

OPEN HEARTS, OPEN MINDS is released on the 23rd of July 2021, led by the dream-like single ‘Meet Me At Midnight’ which is released 16th April 2021.