“Everyone’s seemed to welcome the diversity”: Nili Brosh on her esoteric new solo record
The virtuoso shredder on Michael Jackson, Dethklok, and why she can’t put one very special Ibanez guitar down.
Image: Tim Salaz
A quick glance at Nili Brosh’s CV and you’d be forgiven for thinking she’s something of a hired gun. From a long and successful stint as second guitarist in Tony Maclpine’s touring band, to performing the part of the ‘The Muse’ in world-renowned contemporary circus Cirque du Soleil’s production of ONE (featuring the music of Michael Jackson), and not forgetting of course her many performances with all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens; but that would be overlooking her two critically acclaimed and highly successful solo albums.
At the tail end of 2019, Nili Brosh left her gig with Cirque de Soleil and began working to release her third solo album Spectrum – a varied and esoteric record that effortlessly transports you from country to country, genre to genre, as Nili demonstrates her chameleon-like ability to adapt playing technique to suit each discipline. We caught up with her to discuss technique, gear, animated bands, and of course that genre-hopping new record.
Spectrum manages to dart between quite obscure genres with ease and authenticity. We wouldn’t expect an acknowledged virtuoso shredder to display such familiarity with such disparate forms of traditional music – where did that interest come from?
“I wasn’t aware of being an apparently acknowledged virtuoso shredder but thank you! I’ve asked myself that same question, but I think a lot of it comes from having grown up in Israel and watching a lot of films and TV with scores from all over the world. I’ve also been interested in lots of genres and roles of the guitar for a long time, so I guess I’ve picked up different influences from different sources along the way”.
Were you worried about how your fans would react to such an esoteric record?
“I was a bit concerned about this album not being fully accepted, sure, but I still felt like I had to stick to my guns artistically, and go for the vision I believed in. All along I’d hoped my fans would accept it, and so far, I couldn’t be more pleased with the reaction – everyone’s seemed to welcome the diversity rather than the other way around.
You’ve done a lot of really interesting work over the years, but your involvement with Cirque du Soleil and Dethklok must have been really impactful on you.
“To be honest, I think both of those have been too recent for me to know the full impact they might have on my music going forward. But I will say that as far as live experience goes, both of these gigs have sharpened my on-the-spot performance skills way more than any other gigs could’ve. I’m very grateful for both these opportunities.”
Playing Michael Jackson songs every day must have been an interesting experience, too – were you already a fan?
“I was! Always have been. This show actually just left me more in awe of his musicianship and the talents of everyone who has worked with him”.
The whole ethos of Dethklok – an animated metal band with real musicians behind them – that must have been quite a bizarre thing to be involved in, even for someone who’s done so many unusual projects.
“It’s been insane! Having been a fan and friend of the band members previously, I thought I knew what to expect but… it turns out I really didn’t! The entire live experience – especially the fans and their energy – was way beyond anything I’d ever experienced. I love the music and playing all of Brendon’s [Small, creator and band leader] brilliant riffs with him was ridiculously fun”
You’re a big fan of Ibanez guitars, what’s your go-to axe at the moment?
“Lately I’ve been using the reissue of the RG550, the Genesis Collection. It’s the guitar that made me want to be an Ibanez artist and I’ve had a hard time putting it down since I finally got one!”
Spectrum is out now on New Age records.