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NILI BROSH: THE ‘SHE ROCKS’ INTERVIEW

nili-brosh-with-guitarNili Brosh’s path to distinction in the rock guitar world has been an organic one, based on skill, determination and respect. From her days at Berklee College learning her trade, to impressive slots alongside musician greats such as Tony McAlpine, Bryan Beller and Virgil Donati, to her own solo albums and rockin’ hard with the highly regarded tribute band the Iron Maidens, Nili let’s her guitar do all the talking. Her YouTube videos are viewed in the ten of thousands and you just get the impression that the LA based guitarist has attained only a fraction of the accolades and achievements that she’s inevitably heading for. Nili also appears on She Rocks Vol 1, a compilation of tracks by some of the best female guitarists going around, which will be released on January 20 to coincide with the She Rocks Awards at NAMM in Anaheim. Prior to the album’s release, Australian Musician caught up with Nili to discuss her career, gear and the She Rocks album.

How did you feel when asked to contribute a song to the She Rocks album?
I was honored and so happy to be included! There are so many girls doing amazing things on the guitar right now, I’m really grateful that well-respected guitar labels such as Favored Nations are helping expose the world to it.

There are a lot more female lead guitar players now than decades ago. Why do you believe it was it such a male domain in the past and what attracted you to lead guitar?
I’m not quite sure, to be honest – it’s something that I’ve always wondered about. Maybe girls weren’t often inspired to pick up a guitar because they didn’t have enough female role models who do so. That is obviously starting to change now! I have always loved music, but what attracted me to lead guitar was the fact that my older brother Ethan plays it. I guess I am a good example of someone who got on the right path despite not having a role model of the same gender!

The She Rocks album is such a great documentation of some amazing female players that we have in the world today. There’s a school of thought that would suggest that we shouldn’t separate gender in music at all … that there shouldn’t be best female this or best male that … the notion being that we’re all equally musicians. Your thoughts on that?
That is exactly what my view on that has been my entire life. I think you could make a case for separating men and women in sports, obviously, as physical attributes play a certain role in athlete’s abilities. However, we have no concrete evidence to suggest that it is the same in music, so why not throw us all in the same pool? Besides, music isn’t a competition anyway – I would much rather each of us measure ourselves against our own potential and personal best, not someone else’s.

What attracted you to seven string guitar?
Actually, it was something I had to pick up for the audition I had had with Tony MacAlpine. Much of his newer music includes seven string, so it would’ve been impossible to audition on six. I had to learn to adapt very quickly, and I’m glad I took the chance on it!

Would your stage set up change much going from your solo material to Iron Maidens to Seven The Hardway to a Tony McAlpine gig or does it stay pretty much the same?
What tweaks might be required? It would more or less be the same. I have a fairly simple rig – I’ve always been the kind of player that gets most of their tone and gain from the amp, with a slight boost or compression from pedals. Other than that, I have a few basic effects that compliment my tone, such as delay, reverb, chorus. I guess the tweaks that might be required are more specific effects such as a wah on a Maiden solo for example…or some more intricate textural effects if I were doing a gig that required more sound design. For the most part, though, I go for fairly straightforward guitar tone.

How much of an influence has Tony McAlpine been on your career and have you heard how he is doing health-wise at the moment?
He’s doing very well! He went back to touring this past summer and picked up where he left off. He’s been a great influence on both my career and my playing. I’m not sure where I’d be – skill-wise or exposure-wise – if it weren’t for that gig. I owe a lot to Tony!

 

nili-brosh-seatedHow much experimentation of combinations of guitars, amps and pedals did you go through before you found a tone you were truly happy with?
Not too much, to be honest. I’m very much of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. My vision of tone comes more from my ears rather than a certain piece of gear, so once I found a combination that captures what I hear in my head, I stuck with it. For me, I find that while every piece of gear is a variable in your overall tone, I’m always going to sound like myself as it is – for better or worse! I think our hands are the bottom line. Plus, many guitar players have an idea of the kind of tone they’re going for, and are going to try to achieve it from whatever pieces of gear they use – so the overall sound isn’t usually drastically different.

 

At what point did you realise the importance of good accessories such as cables, picks, strings?
How far into your career was it that the quality of those kind of things mattered to you? Pretty early on, I think. Even if a lower quality of those accessories didn’t necessarily hinder my playing, I never found it so much fun to be fighting my gear while I play. I think it’s safe to say that most people want to find the gear that will help them, not work against them. So I did my best to get my hands on accessories that will allow me to be comfortable for as long as I can remember.

How do you like your guitar action set up and what gauge strings are you using?
I’m not sure of the exact action measurement as I tend to just “know what feels right”, but it’s safe to say that it’s pretty low! I use 9-42’s, with a 54 gauge on my low B string.

Of all the guitars in rock n roll history, which one would you like to have in your hands the most?
Yikes, that’s a tough one! Hmm……I guess I’d have to say Brian May’s Red Special. There’s obviously none other like it, as he and his father built it, plus in my opinion – you can’t argue with Brian’s tone!!

What are your three favourite rock riffs?
Another tough one, jeez! This changes periodically, but if I have to answer right now, I’d say: I’m the one – Van Halen, Pornograffitti or He-Man Woman Hater – Extreme, and the riff towards the end of Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen. I guess that’s technically four. Sorry not sorry!

What pedals are you currently enjoying?
I always have to have the EP Booster by Xotic and MXR’s Carbon Copy in my board. Tone enhancers!

What are you most proud of in your music career?
Progress!

Who are some other female guitarists that you really dig?
I really dig Gretchen Menn and Nita Strauss. I think they are doing amazing things musically, as well as serving as role models for young girls in a way previous generations may have lacked.

What’s planned for 2017? A new album?
Yes! Among other things with my solo band and some potential new projects – stay tuned!

When will you visit Australia?
As soon as the right opportunity comes along! This is the perfect outlet to let it be known that Australia is actually number 1 on my list of places I want to visit/tour. Let’s make it happen!

Nili Brosh website

She Rocks Vol1 is released January 20 via www.favorednations.com

She Rocks, Vol. 1 Track List:

1.              Orianthi – “Transmogrify”
2.              Yasi Hofer – “Cosmic Stars”
3.              Kat Dyson – “U Know What I Like”
4.              Sarah Longfield – “The Taxi Time Travel Task Force”
5.              Lita Ford w/Lez Zeppelin – “The Lemon Song”
6.              Jennifer Batten – “In the Aftermath”
7.              Nita Strauss – “Pandemonium”
8.              Steph Paynes – “The Sun at Her Eastern Gate”
9.              Nili Brosh – “A Matter of Perception”
10.           Gretchen Menn – “Scrap Metal”
11.           Yvette Young – “Hydra”

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