Nili Brosh has just released her second debut album, ‘A Matter Of Perception‘, an incredible instrumental guitar record featuring world class musicians that illustrates just how far she has come since her Berklee College days. I caught up with Nili while she had some downtime from her hectic schedule touring as guitarist in the Tony MacAlpine band to chat about ‘A Matter Of Perception‘.
GN: A lot has happened since the release of your debut album including touring extensively with Tony MacAlpine, how has this influenced your writing and playing for this record?
NB: I’m not sure how much it influenced the writing, because a great deal of it was actually done several years ago when I had just first met Tony… but I can tell you that the extensive touring, in addition to playing with so many high-caliber musicians has greatly improved my playing for sure. It’s hard to tell where my playing would’ve been today without the push that playing with Tony has given me, and I don’t even really want to think about it! I just know that it pushed me to a much higher level than I was at before, and I think it’s definitely audible in the difference between my first record (“Through The Looking Glass“) and my new one.
GN: You have also moved to 7 string guitar as your main instrument a while ago do you still play 6 string guitars?
NB: I actually don’t! I don’t even have any 6 string guitars in LA with me – they’re all left back at my parents’ house in Boston, nor do I own any 6 string Ibanez guitars to begin with. To be honest, since having switched to the 7 several years ago, I find it very difficult to play a 6. I always find myself trying to play lines that make their way down to a string that ends up not being there! Having the low B there has just become a very natural part of my playing now. However, when I do pick up a 6 string, I notice how much smaller the neck is, and it makes my hands feel like a giant’s! That part is cool in a silly kind of way… my hands are really not very big.
GN: So I assume all of the new tracks were written on a 7?
NB: Some of them were, some of there weren’t. As I said, much of the writing was done right around the time I met Tony and picked up a 7 string in the first place. However, the songs that weren’t written on a 7 evolved and were adapted to be played on one over time. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to play any of them on a 6 now…
GN: You’ve also recently switched to EMG pickups, were these used on the record?
NB: They were used on one song, I signed with EMG in January of this year, and most of the album was actually recorded during the summer of 2013. You can, however, hear my 57-66 EMG pickups on the song Yolanda, and on the live performance of Silence of Saturday and A Matter of Perception at EMGtv.
GN: What other gear was used on the new record?
NB: I mostly used my main rig, a Peavey JSX head with an Egnater Tourmaster 2×12 cabinet recorded with a variety of microphones. I take a very simple approach when it comes to guitar recording – I’ve always been pretty old-school as far as the “put the mic in front of the cab until you get a good tone” method goes. With the right mic’s and the right room, I believe it can work.
GN: You mentioned that these tracks were actually written a while ago, did you feel you needed to live with them for a while before committing to tape so to speak?
NB: Absolutely. The songs were in fact written (as far as a basic melody line and chord changes are concerned) a long time ago, but I wasn’t very happy with them until… pretty much the end of the recording process! I felt as though much rehashing and reworking on the lines and arrangements was necessary to really get these songs to come alive. It took a long time and it was a challenging creative process at times, but I’m very glad I took the time to go through it, because it can be extremely rewarding to go from the point of frustration to the point where you’re truly happy with the material. Not to mention, it makes it a lot more desirable to share it with the public at that point.
GN: The track Eli I immediately picked up on being a tribute to Jason Becker (Eli being his middle name), but interestingly the DLR era Becker (my favourite Becker material). Was this your “It’s Showtime!”?
NB: Yup – sure is! Good catch on your part! I’m not sure how many other people may have picked up on this, but it might have been a bit more obvious to people who have seen my “It’s Showtime!” YouTube cover from a few years back. The DLR era Becker is my favorite material of his too, and – as many others have done before me – I figured what better way to pay tribute to one of the greatests ever than writing an instrumental in the style of one of my favorite songs?
GN: You have some amazing musicians playing with you on this album such as Bryan Beller, Marco Minnemann and Virgil Donati. Have you played with any of these guys before?
NB: I have, in fact. Marco played a few songs on Tony MacAlpine’s last album (self-titled, 2011), and therefore he was the drummer on my very first gig with him, in July 2011. A few months later I was invited to sit in with The Aristocrats at their performance at Berklee College of Music, on a song Bryan wrote called “Cave Dweller” (you can see footage and hear Bryan talk about it in his interview in my album documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydyqMhSDB0A). That experience, as you might imagine, was one of the most memorable and exhilarating musical experiences I’ve ever had. As far as Virgil goes, we actually have a slightly longer history – I joined a band with him and Tony called Seven The Hardway in the beginning of 2011, and we’d rehearsed extensively but had never actually toured. So Virgil and I since joke about how we’ve played together so much, but have never played together. Soon, hopefully, we will get an opportunity.
GN: So were the tunes fully written when you had them record their parts?
NB: The basic ideas were all there, yes. Of course, the guys enhanced my demo rhythm section ideas greatly, which was my reasoning for hiring them. I knew how much these virtuosos had to bring to the table, obviously, and I wanted to use it as inspiration to rework the material and take it to the next level.
I gave all the players early demos of the material in the anticipation of wanting to hear what they give back to me and feed off of it before finalizing my parts. I looked at it as an opportunity to grow and collaborate as best I can without actually being in the same room with any of them. I knew that this was an incredible learning opportunity, and the key to making this record the best it could possibly be. In other words… these songs could’ve never been where they are today without these guys.
GN: The final track Yolanda reminded me of Andy Timmons but a little more jazzy, was this tune influenced by any guitarist in particular?
NB: Surprisingly enough, I can’t say that I can pinpoint it to any particular player. Yolanda is actually the oldest song on the record – I wrote it around 2008-2009, when I was still going to Berklee College of Music. I remember being slightly surprised at the time that I had come up with those ideas – being as they’re so different from what I usually write. My guess is it probably came about from the exposure my ears had to a lot of jazz at school back then.
GN: You have always been an extremely proficient guitar player but it does seem that since your time touring alongside Tony MacAlpine you have really developed technically and musically, do you feel that in yourself?
NB: Thank you! And yes, absolutely. Oddly enough, I have somewhat recently revisited a bunch of old videos of mine, an activity which usually results in a mixed bag of emotions for me: amusement, delight, embarrassment, searing pain… anyway, this coincidental, educational trip down memory lane led me to the conclusion that the year I met Tony, my playing clearly transformed completely. I don’t know if anyone else knows my playing well enough to be able to pinpoint it down to those particular few months, but to me it was very obvious. As I’ve mentioned earlier, It’s incredibly scary for me to wonder where my playing would have been today had I never had the great privilege of learning from him. I’m very lucky that things worked out the way they did.
NB: So what is next for you? Any Nili Brosh solo tour dates in the pipeline?
NB: Actually, yes! I’ve recently put together a band to play my solo material with for the first time since my first CD release party, FOUR years ago! We’re starting with some shows in California:
December 10th, 2014 at The Baked Potato in Los Angeles
December 11th, 2014 opening for Maragold at M15 in Corona, CA
December 13th, 2014 opening for Maragold at Ramona Mainstage in Ramona, CA
I will be posting more dates periodically as they come up, so I hope you keep in touch with me through my social media!
You can follow Nili Brosh on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and of course you can also keep track of her latest news, tour dates etc. on her website – http://www.nilibrosh.com/.
To purchase ‘A Matter Of Perception’ go to the Nili Brosh online store – http://nilibrosh.spinshop.com/.
Check out The Story Of A Matter Of Perception on Nili’s YouTube Channel: