Nili Brosh hardly needs an introduction.
For those who haven’t yet seen any of the YouTube videos or numerous posts in both real and virtual press, let’s just say... Good morning. You have just awakened from a long, long sleep...
For the rest of us, let’s try to find out a little more about some less obvious aspects of this young rising star.
You graduated at Berklee, played with Guthrie, recorded your own album, toured Europe with Tony MacAlpine, all that by the age of 22... You’ve got to love your life?
Hahaha well, I guess that’s only one aspect of my life, but I’ve been doing my best to keep busy, and I’m very grateful for the opportunities I’ve had thus far. I’ve certainly worked hard for them and enjoyed them all. I am 23 now though…so I should probably try and get some more work done!
You just completed a successful European tour with Tony MacAlpine. The whole gig, we understand, came for you out of the blue. How did you feel when you got that call? Tell us a little about it.
Originally, I had auditioned for another band with Tony and (drummer) Virgil Donati called Seven The Hardway, so at the time that’s the gig I thought I had signed up for. A month later, Tony called and offered me to join his instrumental band as well, which as you said, was in fact quite out of the blue. To be honest with you, at first I was actually very freaked out at the idea of touring in that capacity, and the responsibility of supporting such a respected musician in the guitar community. I knew I had to throw caution into the wind, accept the generous offer, and just have faith that I could pull it off – but I will admit that I was nervous about it, as I think most guitarists would be. I think Tony believed that I could do well in that band well before I ever thought so.
This was your first Europe outing. How did you find the place? Was the audience similar from town to town, country to country? Did you like one crowd better than another?
I loved it. Obviously, Europe is not a small place, and when covering the West as well as many Eastern countries, there are some noticeable cultural differences. There were a few points in which we were doing a country a day. For the most part I think the crowds who show up to these shows are very excited about the genre. I do have to say that I particularly liked the audience in Moscow, which was not only the biggest number we’ve had all tour, but also seemed to be the most enthusiastic. There were smiles on many faces and that’s usually a sure-fire way to know you’re doing something right!
Was there a place, you thought, you definitely have to return to?
There was more than one, but I’d have to go with Paris or Barcelona. We got to spend a little bit more time in Barcelona than we did in Paris, as we had a day off there. I thought Barca was one of the coolest cities I’ve seen – it was vibrant, young, there were a lot of people out on the streets at night and I’m generally into cities that feel alive. Everyone was also very well dressed, which made me feel quite out of place in my tour bus sweats! I’m very grateful for those few off days, where I got to sightsee a bit. So I guess on that note, I’d say I really have to go back to Paris,which I only saw for an evening.
Tell us about your relationship with Tony. Presumably you didn’t go out there just to do a job. Were there mentoring moments, did you have a chance or a need to pick his brains on anything that you may later benefit from?
I think the mentoring moments were more about live experience, life on the road, life lessons so-to-speak rather than hands-on guitar lessons. We were all busy during the day, and kept the guitars in a trailer rather than on the bus with us, so there wasn’t much time for playing besides soundcheck and the show itself. Therefore, much of the knowledge Tony passed to me was through conversations about music and the psychology that comes with it. Honestly, I think I actually prefer it that way, because I feel like talking about the mental aspects of live performance can usually benefit me more than learning some new licks. There’s always time for licks, but there are things you can only learn on the road…
How did the experience affect you musically? Will “The Maidens” be able to see anything different about you when you next hit the road together? You are touring Texas this summer, aren’t you?
Well I guess you’ll have to ask them that! I find it very difficult to pick out improvements in my live playing because performing is a new challenge every time. It does get easier, but every gig comes with its own set of challenges. Also, your perception on whether you had a good or a bad night can be different than how others perceive it, especially because I think many guitar players get pickier about their playing as they gain more experience.
Yes, we are touring Texas this summer, and I’m very excited about it! One change I can tell you that The Maidens may see in me is my attitude towards the travel aspect of touring – now that I have many more miles behind me…
How does it work with you and Nita, both being in Murray position? You are quite good friends?
Yes, Nita and I are good friends. She’s an awesome girl and a great guitar player in her own right. We just each do whichever gigs work within our schedules, since we both have a lot of other projects going on. It’s a good way to split the workload!
You are a Berklee graduate. That is arguably the most coveted guitar school in the world. Some time ago you raised an issue about huge fees that they charge. What do you think of Live4guitar’s idea of trying to pool resources and the knowledge that the guys like you acquired trough schooling and experience and offer them to a wider audience at a reasonable cost? Do you think this could be a win-win situation for both guitar teachers and students?
It’s a great idea, but as much as I disagree with Berklee’s current price, I think there are reasons why the school can get away with it. It is one of many private schools in a nation that knows college tuition will rise every year, and unfortunately has to deal with it. And that’s exactly what it is – a college, which can offer you a bachelors degree in several majors you may not be able to study anywhere else. You can learn to play guitar anywhere, and you can study with great teachers wherever you go. But I think some of Berklee’s strengths lie in their core curriculum – the harmony, ear training, arranging classes, as well as the fact that it’s a huge network of talented musicians with varying influences from all over the world. I’m not trying to put down Internet lessons, because we all know we have many resources available to us at the palm of our hands that we didn’t have before. But I do believe there are still things you can only get from a real personal experience, connecting with other students, playing gigs, socializing, and yeah…even going to class!
You owe some of your popularity to the YouTube. However useful the internet is in helping people get wider exposure, it also creates problems. One of them is illegal downloads. What are your thoughts on that and have you been affected in any way?
I do owe a lot of my exposure to YouTube, but as you said, it can be a mixed bag of sorts. I think most musicians of today cannot rely solely on YouTube for success, but perhaps use it as a springboard for other opportunities and ideas. At least for me, now’s the time where I have to prove myself beyond the Internet. I think there is a point where viewers on YouTube ask, “OK, what else can she do?” That’s an important question and I understand why it’s being asked. Actually, I prefer it that way – it’s a good motivator for me to get involved in many different things, and I want my eggs to be in many baskets…for lack of a better expression!
As far as illegal downloads go…well I’ll be the first to tell you that I’ll never be okay with it, even though I know I’m fighting a losing battle. I’m young, but I still grew up in a world where people paid for music. It was a tangible, physical product, which had an understood monetary value. And that was helpful. Obviously the old model is pretty much a thing of the past, and while the industry is still scrambling to find a new model, we have to accept that downloads are a part of our present. I’m affected by it just like everybody else. The only reason I may be less affected than others at the moment is because my exposure is limited compared to more popular artists.
How is “Through the Looking Glass” doing?
It’s hard to gauge success in a world of illegal downloads and independent releases, but I think it’s doing pretty well. It’s definitely no surprise to me that selling CDs on the road is probably the best way to get the record out there. That is obviously a great situation for concentrated sales, and I think those who may not purchase it the night they see the show are likely to get it online after they’ve heard about it. There’s always a trail of additional purchases right after a series of gigs; it’s a good way to keep the sales momentum going. My hope is that the record will continue to sell as I tour more and more people hear my name.
You are working on your next album. These things are normally shrouded in secrecy, but perhaps you can tell us a little bit about it?
Well…it’s instrumental! Haha. It will certainly feature more rhythm section players than my debut album. It’s going to have some big names on it as far as drummers and bassists are concerned. It’s still in its early stages, but I’m very excited about this one. It is my primary focus for the next half a year or so. I’m hoping to have something by winter, but as I’ve learned with the last record, these things always take more time and cost more than you estimate!