Guitar Girl'd: Nili Brosh, Tony MacAlpine’s Latest Weapon
Justin Bieber isn’t the only musician who knows how to harness the power of YouTube.
When she was 18, Nili Brosh posted a video called “Guthrie Govan solo played by 18 year old girl.” Her dexterity and ability stunned viewers, and her video went viral, landing her an endorsement with Inspire Guitars.
Four years and 178,000 video views later, Brosh has matured into a pro player and instructor. In fact, she’s one of youngest faculty members in the Berklee College of Music summer guitar programs, where she has been teaching since age 19.
In 2010 Brosh released her self-titled debut instrumental album, which features guitar legend Andy Timmons as a guest soloist, and the rhythm section of her own Nili Brosh Band. Today Brosh is poised to head out with guitar monster Tony MacAlpine as a member of his touring band.
But training, hard work and perseverance aside, Brosh just has the gift. Maybe it’s genetics. Maybe it’s just that this woman really loves the guitar. Or maybe it’s a little bit of both.
What made you decide to play guitar, and metal guitar in particular?
I’ve always loved music. I have three older brothers so I grew up around music that is older than my time, and a lot of hard rock or metal. Nothing too heavy, but heavy enough! I also have an older brother who started playing guitar when he was 13. When I was a kid I wanted to be like him. That was an early start.
Did your brother go on to become a professional musician?
Yeah! He has actually done a bunch of "Betcha Can’t Play This" videos, so he has been in Guitar World. His name is Ethan Brosh. ( ">Check out Ethan's playing here.
">Check out Ethan's playing here.)
When I was 12 we moved to the States from Israel, where I grew up, then I got my first electric guitar. I’ve been here in Boston ever since, and went to Berklee College of Music. I usually teach in the summer programs, but this year I couldn’t do one of my programs because I am going to be working with Tony MacAlpine.
Tell me a little bit more about that project.
That came together earlier this year. I actually was in the right place at the right time. I got this audition for a side project of his called Seven the Hard Way with Mark Boals. So a couple days later they called me and told me I had the gig. Unfortunately, that tour never happened. But about a month later he called me and asked me to also be in his solo band, because their new record came out a few weeks ago. We are about to really start that in the next couple of weeks.
You must have been so psyched!
Yeah, I was all sorts of freaked out!
Who else is in the band with Tony?
For this first thing that we are doing, the drummer is Marco Minnemann (The Aristocrats, Paul Gilbert, Nina Hagen, Necrophagist) and the bass player is Bjorn Englen. The drummer sometimes depends on the part of the world where we are on tour. We did our first warm-up gig at the Musicians Institute on July 14 and are still working out the details of this tour. Check my website for updates!
Have you toured before?
I’ve played a little bit with this all-female Iron Maiden tribute band called The Iron Maidens. They are based in California, so until I move out there it can’t be permanent. Living and working in Boston with Berklee College of Music, I’ve been pretty fortunate to play with some pretty amazing people who just came through Boston. One was Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani) and also Guthrie Govan (Asia). I also released my first record last year that had Andy Timmons on it, a good friend of mine.
Were there other women in the guitar program at Berklee when you attended?
There were a few, and I believe there are a couple more now. But there are definitely a lot more male guitarists, as you know.
Do you feel as though you were pulled back as a female player?
Not usually. I’m pretty grateful. Everybody’s been pretty cool about it. Thankfully I haven’t had it really bad or anything. You know, no one has really said anything harsh or put me down just because I am a girl. So far so good!
What kind of gear do you use?
When I was 19, I got approached by this really small custom guitar company called Inspire Guitars. They basically offered me this very flexible deal where they sent me a guitar to start out with, and they told me, “If you make a video for us and play the guitar, that’s fine. We know every guitar player likes to have several sounds.” So I got super lucky with that and have been working with them the past couple years.
Recently with this Tony MacApline gig I switched to seven-string guitar, which has been a learning experience. I don’t actually own one yet, because the gig with Tony has been happening so fast. I’ve just been borrowing guitars. But I’ve been digging in and getting ready for the tour with Tony and need the seven-string for that. So far I really like the Ibanez Universe, which is what I’ve been playing recently since I’ve been mainly practicing seven-string. My main head right now is a Peavey JSX.
What do you dream of doing? Are there people you would love to play with?
I’d love to continue doing what I’m doing and seeing where it takes me. I really hope this tour works out. I just want to make more records and involve as many extremely talented people as I can. As I meet more of them, there are so many talented people I’d love to work with.
You’ve caught me at a very fortunate time and I’m working with so many amazing players right now that I almost don’t know what to say. I hope can just keep doing that and see how many people I can get involved. I guess I am really hoping for my next album to have the rhythm section of Stu Ham and Virgil Donati (Steve Vai, Planet X) on the drums. That’s my plan ... I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to do it. But that’s what I’m thinking!
Personally, I’d like to see Brosh go head to head with her brother, Ethan (Those would be some flaming harmonic guitar solos!). But for now, keep up with her latest at nilibrosh.com.
Here’s that historic video of Nili nailing the Guthrie Govan solo:
And a more recent video of her performing the song “Wafer,” featuring Andy Timmons from her 2010 self-titled debut CD.
Laura B. Whitmore is a singer/songwriter based in the San Francisco Bay area. A veteran music industry marketer, she has spent over two decades doing marketing, PR and artist relations for several guitar-related brands including Marshall and VOX. Her company, Mad Sun Marketing, represents 65amps, Acoustic Bass Amps, Agile Partners, Guitar World and many more. Laura was instrumental in the launch of the Guitar World Lick of the Day app. She is the lead singer for the rock band Summer Music Project. More at mad-sun.com.