I recently drove up to LA on a sunny Saturday afternoon to the humble abode of one-half of the duo, Courtship. Eli and Micah are two early 20-somethings who immediately greeted me with smiles and a comfy seat on the couch. We chatted for a bit while we settled in for the interview. We talked about tennis, since that what was on the TV. And even in those first few minutes, the giddiness and joy these two guys emitted was infectiously relaxing.

Courtship have been gaining popularity since they released their first single, 'Stop for Nothing'. It's a synthy, pop-rock jam that gets you dancing in your car seat driving the freeway. And while the project is still very new, Eli and Micah are anything but newcomers. They both honed their chops writing with and for other artists: Eli for Dreamers and Ethan Burns; Micah for Tobias Jesso, Jr.

After our interview (which felt more like a laid-back chat with old friends), they played me a new song they're putting the final touches on. It's funkified, poppy, and has great buildups. They bobbed along to the new song with huge smiles and Eli even busted out some air-bass.

Read on below to find out more about the duo known as Courtship. Get to know the artists and realize the joy that can be found in the hearts of young musicians.

So, just to start off, where did each of you grow up?

Micah: Uh, Micah Gordon, age 23. (Laughs) I grew up here [LA] in the Santa Monica area, right near the beach. And I started playing music when I was really young, like around 6 or 7- seriously playing piano. And then, I really didn't love it until I got into jazz, which was probably around age 10, or something. And then that kind of like took over my life. And I was oh, shi- oh, this is really cool.

Eli: Can you say "shit"?

M: Yeah, can I say "shit"?


When then take a minute to laugh and joke about swearing. They joke about their mom's reading the interview and seeing swearing in it and trying to explain they are adults now and can swear.

M: But yeah, when I discovered jazz was when I first really loved music. And then, from there, I just kind of took piano lessons and drum lessons and, yeah. I studied at school and now I'm here.

Nice. How about you, Eli?

E: I grew up learning piano because my parents forced me to when I was 6. And I was really upset about it for a long time until they let me pick up the guitar- I was like 10. Which is crazy to think that I picked up the guitar at 10 because I am not good and I should be way better at guitar because I've been playing guitar SINCE I WAS 10 YEARS OLD, OH MY GOD!

So, anyway, I learned guitar and started playing in bands when I was like 12 in Portland- I grew up in Portland, Oregon. And I started playing in pop-punk bands and like, really that's what I seriously did. In high school, I came home from school and went to band practice. I didn't really party at all, I was just super focused on whatever band I was in at the time. And just like overtime, I got really excited about songwriting and had some amazing experiences with a couple different people who were super inspiring and mentored me at a young age and just pushed me to really do it. And, so then, long story short, after a bunch of stuff- "long story short"- we just watched a South Park about that. Anyways, long story short I ended up coming here [LA] and really moving here- I had spent a lot of time in LA before- and I moved to LA almost exactly a year ago and joined this band called Bloodboy. You know Bloodboy?

I do, I do.

E: Okay, cool. Yeah, Bloodboy is a really cool LA band that Micah and I played in. And so I was playing in Bloodboy for a while and the keyboard play left to go play with Mike Posner. And then Micah joined the band and we were like, "let's jam." And then day one we wrote something and then, here we are.

That's awesome. So you guys met each other around a year ago?

E: No, Micah and I met each other in April-

Oh, wow!

M: Yeah, so he [Eli] started in Bloodboy a year ago. But, then I joined later on. I knew the manager and I was like, "sure, I'll see what this is all about." And I almost didn't join the band.

E: He almost didn't call.

M: Yeah, I almost didn't call. I was in my room and feeling really tired that day. And I was like, "Do I really want to do this?" And I'm so happy I did go. I met the band and met Eli.

E: And we didn't even start making music until like, June.

Oh, dang. Well, I'm excited to be catching you guys on the ground floor. That's awesome. So, for Eli, what caused you to move to LA? Portland has a scene and there's New York, Chicago.

E: Yeah, so I have a lot of friends here. I think that's a big part of it. My family- my extended Jewish family- is all here. So, I know LA really well. So, it felt like the place to go. I also think, honestly, at the time, it was more of a songwriting choice. Because, Micah and I both were doing this. I was doing a little more band stuff, but we were both very songwriting-for-other-people focused. And LA is where that happens. A little bit in New York, but mainly LA. And so, it just made sense to come. And it worked out also because my girlfriend is going to college here.

Sweet, sweet. And for you Micah, you started off doing the jazz piano. How did that shift into doing more contemporary music?

M: So, in high school I was playing jazz. And then, this other kid came to play jazz in the same school- this guy named Isaac in the ninth grade. I thought I was pretty good at piano. But, then he came and he was like, really good. So, then I was like, "I know this right now I'm never going to be as good as him." And that's not digging at my self-confidence, I just realized I am not a jazz player and I will never be a jazz player. So, I started thinking about other options I could do and what other music I could explore. Even though I continued to play jazz- and I still do throughout my life- I also made beats and hip-hop beats, dance beats, whatever and made other types of music. And that kind of slowly evolved into pop music and writing and producing. And, it's cool because my background in jazz really allows for the widest range of possibilities- the range, the chords, the scales, all of it. It's a really cool segue into pop music.

How did each of you get into writing for and with others?

E: It's pretty weird, you know? I think that there were different people that I met before- I'm 21. Probably when I was like 16 or 17, there were a few people that introduced me to the idea that this was even a thing- that people wrote songs for other people. I was like, "Wow," because I didn't really realize that. But then also that it doesn't have to be this bad thing- like people definitely have certain connotations about it that's bad. But just do it if it works; do it if you want to do it. It's as simple as that.

So, I started doing it a little bit with various kids in Portland who needed help with it. And then I came down to LA and just got set up with different bands. And, for me- well there's a lot of different ways people go about it. You can be signed to a publishing company, you might be a writer on the circuit and write with others and then go pitch it to Selena Gomez- and that's cool, but that's not really as much as what I'm interested in. For me, I'm way more interested in writing with the bands. So, like with the band Dreamers, I write with them; there's this band called Mainland, and Ethan who's about to be huge, he's incredible. That is what really excites me- it really excites me to help someone say exactly what it is they really want to say in the best way possible. And not figuring out what they're supposed to say, but figuring out what they actually want to say and that's fun and pretty cool. It's like kind of playing therapist.

M: Songwriting therapist. As soon as I graduated, I came back to LA. I started- I knew I wanted to be a songwriter or producer. I've known for a while. And I kind of started in really close circles. I have like, five or six really close friends who are pursuing the artist career and who are all insanely talented singers and writers; really special people.

And so I started working them as just like friends and working and collaborating, doing really cool stuff. And I loved that. I never considered I could do that myself and help them. And then, from the Tobias [Jesso, Jr.] thing, I went to school with his manager. And then also, Mason Klein who started the management company that manages Tobias. And they were two years older than me at my high school and knew them through mutual friends. And they call me one day and were like, "Yo, how you doing? We know you play piano and you're really good. Would you want to hang out with Tobias and write with him?" And I was like, "Holy shit- yes." And it was amazing because I didn't have any insane credits to my name- I wasn't some big songwriter at all- I got it because they knew me and they liked me and they set it up. And I went to Tobias' house and we started writing and it was a lot of fun.

That's awesome guys. So, what's your approaches or process you go through when writing lyrics or compositions meant for someone else, capturing their perspective?

E: It's interesting, Micah and I have yet to- and we will- we have yet to write for another artist together. So, I'm assuming our process with writing for other people is different than our process when we write together and work on Courtship. For me, I do everything at my house in Silverlake; we just go and hang out in my backyard. I really, personally, don't care for big studios, they scare me. And it's like this ridiculous, "Oh my god, we're in this cool studio", when that's not necessary for me. I think for other people they thrive off of it but that's just not for me. So, we just go in my backyard, hang, talk, they have a beer and I have water or iced tea 'cause it makes me tired. And then, we start with, "What do you want to say?" And for me, with those people, we almost always write a song before we produce a song- so, just like an acoustic guitar or maybe piano and just write a song about a point that they have. And then, we go and produce it.

M: It's weird, because I guess I don't really have a set approach for writing with other people. I kind of just take each situation differently and let them dictate and kind of go off their vibe and see where they're going. You know, whether get a lot of weird ideas out of it and don't really finish anything that day, or we start something we see through to the end, I do start with piano all the time. Like Eli said, at the core of everything should just be the song, with no production. And if that can stand good on its own, then production will just elevate it. But, I think it's important to not start with production; even though I am guilty of that myself.

E: But do you know what's funny? We start with production a lot.

M: Well, not really a full on production. It's more of a groove really. And I think that's part of what's hurting music today- I'm getting all existential. Because everything is so heavily produced and it sounds so good to our ears- it's like candy, just sugar coating it- and if you take all that away, the songs are just shitty. Well, not all, but a lot. There are some unbelievable songs that are being written today, but, I think that production is clouding good songwriting.

E: I mean, there's a reason why to some people, The Pixie's song, 'Where is My Mind?' sounds like shit to some people. I think it sounds incredible. But to like an 8-year-old kid? Their ear is not going to be used to that kind of sound. They're used to just shiny, shiny sounds. But that song, with just guitar, with him just on acoustic guitar would be amazing- it is amazing. So, that's how you know.

What's your approach when writing as Courtship? Is there any change in mindset when it comes to writing for yourselves

E: Yeah, I think it is different.

M: Totally different. And the funny thing is, the first song we wrote, 'Stop for Nothing', we started it without having the intention of it being us as artists. We were just jamming and it just kind of evolved into something really cool. And it's totally different than writing for other people. It's like, "What do they want to say?" as opposed to what we want to say.

E: Yeah, we also just- it's just so fun. It's hard to explain. It's like we just do our thing.

M: Yeah. You just love saying that.

E: I do! I say it all the time. But, it's just like- it's almost like Micah and I go into it and we both know where we want it to end up. Kind of. It's almost like- it builds itself.

M: Each step is a careful step. It's like trying something and realizing it doesn't work, so trying something else. It's small, baby steps. Eventually, it starts to form into something really, really cool. And you know, like, come up with crazy sounds that we've never heard before that we create together.

E: And a lot if that is part of our process, too. We- I don't think there's anything on the current stuff we're working on that has any virtual instruments at all. Everything is real. Well, the drums aren't included on that. But all the instruments- all the guitar, all the synths, all the bass- it's all real. Like, analog stuff that we run through real stuff and I think that makes a huge difference.

M: And that's the process. Just jamming and finding a groove, finding a vibe. Just going off that. And then we'll write the lyrics.

Okay, so you guys go for composition first and lyrics second?

M: Yeah. Although, that's not always the case. Sometimes it's lyrics first and composition second. That happened on this other song that we have. But, most of the time I would say it's some elements of the music first.

E: Yeah, I think you're right. It just kind of starts with an idea and we just build off of that.

M: Shocking, right?

>strong>Nice. So, let's take a step back. Growing up, who were some artists and bands that influenced your early musical identity?

M: Well, I mean, part of the reason me and Eli bonded so quickly was because of this shared love of rock music- like pop-punk and alternative rock. And we really connected over that. Like when I first joined Bloodboy, we just started off by talking about bands we liked. Like Blink, Sum-41, that whole scene. But, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, still to this day, are my favorite band. Top two? And same with Eli.

E: We were just listening to them yesterday and watching them live. They are fucking over-the-top.

M: Over-the-top. So, we really bonded over that. I used to listen to them and them only when I was younger. I went through different phases and I think that's what's kind of so interesting about my musical background. I think everyone went through phases. I used to love rock. Then I only listened to hip-hop and hated rock. And then I left hip-hop and I hated that and loved only electronic music and dance music. And I kind of went through all these phases. And right now, it's like, all come together and I like everything. I don't disdain anything. But yeah, the Chili Peppers were a big moment in my life and I just listened to them over and over again. I think beyond that, old funk is a big influence of mine. Then there's Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder- I still listen to them on repeat, probably more than any other artists. I wake up and I turn on the shower and I put on Michael Jackson. It really says something about that music; it's still the best music. So, yeah, big on that.

This leads to us discussing Parliament Funkadelic and George Clinton. Which leads to discussing Flying Lotus and Thundercat and needing to see them perform together live and how transcendent of an experience that would be. We gradually bring ourselves back into the interview.

E: Just going off of the Stevie Wonder thing, I maybe listened to Stevie Wonder like three times in my whole life until Micah went, "Dude- listen to this." And I cannot stop listening now. It's some of the greatest music I've heard in my entire life. So, Micah really turned me on to like funky, soul, feel-good music. Just like, "mmm-ahh".

M: And when you think about it, that's such a fundamental difference between rock and soul music. Soul music is all about feeling good and rock is angst, kind of. Ones not better than the other, but that's just the difference between the two.

E: But for me like, pop-punk was a huge part of my life. It still is. I love that music. I love Chili Peppers and I always will; talk about a band that fucking combines rock and funk- they are the best at it. But for me, Blink- it's funny because people aren't going to listen to Courtship and go, "Oh, that sounds like pop-punk" because it doesn't. But like, melodically, pop-punk taught me so much. It's just simple, great melodies. And it's funny, because if you listen to Tom DeLonge talk about Blink, he's like, "Oh, yeah, I listened to The Cure." And then you're like, "Oh, yeah, The Cure." And you hear the similarities in the melodies and get an understanding of where it all comes from. So, like, Taking Back Sunday- but that was when I was a bit younger. And then I turned 14 and fell in love with The Smiths and The Cure and new wave. But, then I genuinely think there is good music in all genres. I love, 'Sorry' by Justin Bieber; that son is extraordinary. There are certain John Mayer songs that I really like; and of course Stevie Wonder; and I honestly love songs by George Straight- I mean, he's a republican so that sucks, dude- get with the times, bro.

But, as a musician-

E: As a musician he is an extraordinary singer-songwriter. And like, the first two Taylor Swift albums I will always love. She, is such an amazing songwriter and she puts it all right there and that for me is what it's all about. That's what gets me excited. And that can be done in so many different genres. I think Micah and I really similar in that way. We really don't discriminate genre wise.

That's awesome. And that's something I've been hearing more and more of the more interviews I do. With the internet, music of all shapes and sizes is readily available. And I'm being told more and more that genre is going the way of the birds and all that matters is the integrity of the song- of the music and of the lyrics. So, expanding a little, what is your guys' take on 'genre'?

E: That's a really interesting question. I think that we as a band have a sound. And we have that sound because there's things that we like. If we really break it down, I think Micah brings the funky side of it and I bring the more indie side of it- like MGMT, Passion Pit, and Foster [the People], like those bands- that was a huge chunk of growing up for me. And I think that when we bring it all together, it sounds like Courtship. So, we just do our thing and that's my opinion on genre.

M: We are genre. Music is at point right now where so many things are being created, genre almost doesn't exist. Although we still have the different charts, it's all starting to blend together.

E: And what, the Pop charts were created so long ago.

M: Exactly, and so music itself is now very genreless. You have so much today that is just a combination of all the genres. Herbie Hancock, one of the best jazz pianists of all time, he was asked a question about jazz music and he said he wasn't a jazz musician. He clearly is, but he didn't think of himself as that. He just thought of himself as a musician. It's amazing to hear one of the greatest jazz musicians say that. All good music is just good music.

So, when it comes to Courtship, is it straight collaboration or are the certain instruments that are divided, or when it comes to vocals, how is that determined?

E: I will say that like, I play bass and Micah plays piano and sings more than I do in the songs. But, overall, it is definitely a complete collaboration.

M: Yeah, for the instrumentation, I think of it like, Eli plays the guitar and bass- string instruments. And I play keys and we both kind of do drums- I would say I do a little more of the drums. It's literally just guitar, bass, keys, drums. Two plus two equals four.

E: Two plus two equals Courtship.

M: Oh man, how lame can we be. But I think when you break it down, I would never have written any of this without Eli.

E: Same, dude, same. It's insane because we look at each other like, the last two weeks have been insane. The song ['Stop for Nothing'] has blown up on Spotify. And it's insane. It's just the craziest thing because we just happened to get together, it just happened.

Nice. Alright, so lastly, what advice would you give to those who are looking to pursue music?

E: Such a good question. It's so weird- can I just say something bizarre. I seriously dreamed of the day that someone would ask me that question.

(We all laugh)

E: It's crazy because I've read stuff where people give advice and I said, "What if someone were to ask me that?"

M: You gonna take out your already prepared essay?

E: That's so weird. But, what I would say, what got us right here is perseverance. I think there's a lot of other things, Micah may have different answers, but that's my take. When I was twelve and doing this, so many things came up in my life where I could just quit. I've been fucked by managers in the past; I chose not to go to college- that was a huge thing with my parents to figure out; huge ups and downs, but that was all part of the journey. And I'm so proud of myself for sticking with it no matter what. It's what I love more than anything in the world, so I did it and I'm doing it forever.

M: Stop for nothing!

E: Stop for nothing- hashtag- if you want it that badly, you will not let anybody tell you no. And people will. People will. It sounds cheesy to say, but people fucking will tell you you can't do it. But you got to just stick with it.

M: I have a little bit simpler answer than that. Just do.