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How Geoff Downes is going proggier than he's ever gone before

The Yes keyboard icon tells Prog about his latest musical venture: a new, third album with Downes Braide Association, that might just be their proggiest yet…

Geoff Downes needs no formal introduction to the readers of Prog, who will know him best as the keyboard player for Yes as well as his work with The Buggles and Asia. His latest release, however, is with Downes Braide Association, the project he began in 2012 with songwriter, record producer and singer Chris Braide, known for writing and producing within pop circles for the likes of Sia, Britney Spears and Beyoncé – but who also harbours a love of prog.

DBA’s third album Skyscraper Souls features an all-star cast including Andy Partridge, Kate Pierson of The B-52’s and Big Big Train’s David Longdon, and effortlessly blends pop and prog to great effect…

This is the third DBA album in five years and it’s a much more elaborate and progressive affair than the previous two. Was that a conscious move?

The first album was very much a case of putting one foot in the water to see what we could come up with. That extended into the second album [2015’s Suburban Ghosts_], and then with _this one, Chris [Braide] came up with the idea that it might be nice to get a proper rhythm section and get some guests in. But I think we got a lot of positivity, certainly from prog fans, on the first two albums. I think it was a guilty pleasure to be enjoying a bit of pop music. At the time, those albums were both quite nostalgic, 80s-driven pop albums. There are still a lot of pop elements on this album too.

With records like this and Steven Wilson’s To The Bone, there seems to be a resurgence in the notion of progressive pop…

A lot of bands from the early pop era, like 10cc and ELO, they were breaking boundaries in musical terms. There were quite a lot of progressive elements in what was, to all intents, mainstream pop. There were always some of those sideways things being thrown in. So we were trying to open up more of that left-field approach to some of our new stuff.

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