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Jews Who Rock: Nili Brosh

When it comes to musicians from the Israeli town of Rishon LeZion, probably the most well-known is singer Shoshana Damari — known as the “Queen of Hebrew Music.”

And these days, one of the most in-demand guitarists in music is yet another musical talent who hails from Rishon LeZion: Nili Brosh.

Last year, Danny Elfman recruited Brosh to record on his album “Big Mess,” his first album in 37 years. And this year, Brosh shredded the guitar with Elfman’s band for two shows at Coachella, both of which were arguably show stealers for the festival. It wasn’t lost on Brosh for a moment that she got to perform the musical score of one of her favorite film soundtracks, “The Nightmare Before Christmas,” with the composer himself.

“I’m a huge, huge fan of [‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’], and I don’t think I have picked up my jaw from the floor,” Brosh said. “It still doesn’t feel real, and I’ve had some time to get used to the idea.”

But there has been so much that Brosh, 33, has done with six strings (and sometimes seven) preceding her collaboration with Elfman. Brosh began playing classical guitar during her elementary school years in Israel. 

“I feel like a lot of parents thought that [in Israel] you gotta start your kids on classical guitar,” Brosh said. “I don’t know whether that was like, ‘We just don’t want you to play electric until we know you’re serious about this, because you’re gonna make a lot of noise with your instruments!’”  

During those years, one of her few sources for new music was European MTV, but that all changed when her family relocated from Israel to Boston. There, Brosh would stage-dive head first into playing hard rock and metal. 

“I discovered Limp Bizkit, right when I moved to Boston, in 2000,” Brosh said. 

She remembers the day her family got cable television and she had her first taste of American MTV. At the time, rap metal band Limp Bizkit’s music videos were in heavy rotation. Little did 12-year-old Brosh know at the time that 22 years later, she would share the stage with Limp Bizkit guitarist Wes Borland in the Danny Elfman band at Coachella.

As a high school student in Boston, Brosh would get into more guitar-centric music. She was taking lessons and learning to just pick up and play songs by ear. During this time, she would become a fan of the metal band Iron Maiden. 

“I was really into [the albums] ‘Power Slave’ and ‘Seventh Sun of a Seventh Sun’ and all those classic Iron Maiden albums that taught me more about metal,” Brosh said. “It was kind of like a catalyst into the whole world [of metal music].”

When Brosh started listening to the band Extreme, she emulated all of their guitar riffs and solos at home. Extreme became one of Brosh’s favorites — fortunately for her, they also came from the Boston area, so she had her parents take her to every one of their hometown concerts. 

“My parents were very into it and open to art and very encouraging,” she said.“I’m super lucky for that.It could have been so easily the other way around.”

 Brosh attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston. She thrived in the immersive music community and came out an even more impressive guitarist. An 84-second YouTube video of her at home performing a catchy yet complicated Guthrie Govan solo shot her into the public eye, earning hundreds of thousands of views. After graduation from Berklee in 2009, her career took off.

 In 2010, Brosh released her debut album “Through the Looking Glass,” a nine-track instrumental album that utilized practically every available note on the guitar. Her solos were intricate and her talent was apparent, and she landed a spot in The Iron Maidens, the premiere all-female Iron Maiden cover band  

Brosh quickly became an in demand session musician, playing with some of the best in the field. She would record with neoclassical metal guitarist Tony MacAlpine and perform on tour with his band. 

Nili Brosh performing in “Michael Jackson ONE” by Cirque du Soleil.
(Photo courtesy Cirque du Soleil)

Between tours, she collaborated with Danger Danger guitarist Andy Timmons, and then worked with the bassist for Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, Stu Hamm. While creating ambient metal with the legends of the craft, Brosh would continue playing with her own band, Nili Brosh Band, most often at the famed jazz club The Baked Potato in Studio City.

“I lived in LA for five years and that place was always so good to us and really started my career in adulthood,” she said.

Brosh was then recruited to play guitar in Cirque du Soliel’s “Michael Jackson ONE” . Over 20 of Jackson’s songs would be performed each night, with Brosh playing solos on a guitar that shot fire 12 feet into the air. She spent two years with Cirque before leaving in 2019.

Since then, she joined the melodic death metal band Dethklok from the animated television series “Metalocalypse.” Brosh is in the touring live band and is expected to perform in the upcoming “Metalocalypse” film adaptation. She also released her newest album, “Spectrum,” where she shifted from ambient rock sound to a more Mediterranean metal sound.

“Having lived in Israel and having been exposed to styles of music from that region of the world definitely had an influence on me and came out in my last album,” Brosh said.

Even when the pandemic put live music on hold, Brosh kept busy playing her Ibanez guitars, often doing freestyle shredding and pinch harmonics in live videos for her 34,100 YouTube subscribers and nearly 100,000 Instagram followers. 

As the world opened up, she got the call to play in Danny Elfman’s band. In May of 2022, Brosh returned to the “Michael Jackson ONE” residency in Las Vegas, but on a part-time basis.

Between Cirque du Soleil shows, recording new music and collaborating with metal legends, Brosh is content to turn off the amplifier and play with her dingo dog Micah, which she adopted during the lockdowns.

Between Cirque du Soleil shows, recording new music and collaborating with metal legends, Brosh is content to turn off the amplifier and play with her dingo dog Micah, which she adopted during the lockdowns.

“He’s definitely a COVID dog, so I’m adjusting to leaving him for the first time,” Brosh said. “It’s the first year that I’ve done that since I’ve had him. But I still feel like it’s harder for me than it is for him.”

Source: Jewish Journal

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