From Portland to L.A.: In Conversation with Eli Hirsch of courtship.

Vortex Music Magazine

After finding his roots in the Portland music scene, Eli Hirsch found his home in Los Angeles and a passion project in courtship. While on the road with his band, Hirsch took some time out to speak with Vortex about his journey.

Eli Hirsch with courtship. at the Crystal Ballroom in December—click for more photos by Sydnie KobzaEli Hirsch with courtship. at the Crystal Ballroom in December—click for more photos by Sydnie KobzaWhen Eli Hirsch called in for our interview, he was somewhere in New Jersey, en route to New York City. His band, courtship., had been on the road for a few weeks and were nearing the end of their leg of The Wombats tour before hopping on another tour with Passion Pit. With so much time on the road away from their L.A. home, Hirsch and the band had learned how to live in a van.

“We’re in it right now,” he says. “And let me tell you, it smells like boy.”

Hirsch has spent a long time in the music industry, and his roots as an artist trace back to his home in Portland. For years, he and former bandmate Quincy Saunders fronted the Portland band Superhighway (The Ecstatics, before a name change in 2014). Superhighway worked their way up the Portland band pyramid, landing top spots opening at some of 94/7fm’s events, as well as playing an exclusive Vortex-sponsored show at Velo Cult. Despite a quick rise, the project wasn’t delivering the creativity needed to continue. Superhighway ended in 2016, and Hirsch found a new home in L.A.

Superhighway at Velo Cult Superhighway at Velo Cult “I understood for myself that L.A. was where I needed to be,” Hirsch says. “I was just doing anything and everything. I was playing guitar for this girl’s band, then just producing a lot, doing a lot of writing with other people. There was just a good solid year of that. It was really important. It was about finding my people in this new city.

“You know, it’s a really weird place, L.A. It’s like being on this other planet. But it’s just this really high concentration of creative people. It’s a really good place to be for that reason. It’s how I met Micah.”

After a year of self-exploration in his new city, things took a turn. At a gig where Hirsch was playing guitar, L.A. producer Micah Gordon showed up. That’s where the two met, and as Hirsch says, Gordon stole him away. courtship. was born.

Speaking on his bandmate (who, at the time of this interview, was on strict vocal rest in preparation for their New York show), Hirsch explained Gordon’s background. Growing up in L.A., Gordon was raised on jazz. He eventually found his place as a producer in the scene, and utilized jazz training on piano, which Hirsch says he “absolutely shreds.”

“This whole project was kind of this coming together of Micah and his love for jazz and funk,” Hirsch says. “And then me with more of a pop-punk, you know Weezer and Green Day, type background.”

Since the start of the project, the band has released a handful of singles, with many of them, including “Sunroof” and “Perfect People,” making their way up alternative charts and getting attention and play from big names such as Beats 1’s Zane Lowe. After years spent in projects in Portland, Hirsch had finally found the platform many artists spend a lifetime searching for.

Things came full circle in December. A call from his hometown brought him back to the Portland stage with the new project behind him. Returning with courtship., Hirsch was recruited by 94/7fm to open for one very special show at their annual December to Remember series. The station turned one of Hirsch's childhood dreams into a reality: On December 12, courtship. opened for Weezer.

Hirsch at the Crystal Ballroom in December—click for more photos by Sydnie KobzaHirsch at the Crystal Ballroom in December—click for more photos by Sydnie Kobza“We couldn’t believe it [when we found out,]” Hirsch says. “The Blue Album was the first album my dad ever gave to me. Ever. I think it was maybe even a cassette. Before that I probably only listened to kids music. Weezer was the first band I ever really loved.”

The band’s excitement didn’t go unnoticed the night of the show. As soon as courtship. took the stage, Hirsch let a shout of “Holy shit!” into the crowd. Just as it was in Superhighway, the energy Hirsch delivered alongside his bandmates was immeasurable.

Looking back and reminiscing on their opening slot with Weezer, Hirsch was at a loss for words. “It was insane. Like… absolutely surreal. We were backstage and you’d look over and like… ‘Oh, there’s Patrick Wilson [the drummer for Weezer].’ I remember staring at him on the cover of my album that I had when I was like six. It was… insane.”

From starting in the Portland scene, to making the move to L.A., then hitting a milestone as the opening act for Weezer, Hirsch’s journey has been long, and the levels he’s reached with Gordon and the rest of the band behind him are well deserved. Much, he says, is owed to his hometown.

“The Portland music scene was my experience, just playing shows and learning how to be in a band. All the little things. It’s such a learning process, and Portland is where it all started.”

Though the band has only visited Portland twice thus far, they plan to play many more shows in the city, starting with their gig with Passion Pit at the Roseland Theater on Thursday, January 25.

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