Duke Shoichi Yamada-Hardcastle, 17, is an aspiring musician and songwriter originally from San Francisco who has lived in Pacifica for the last 10 years. His interest in the arts was galvanized at the Creative Arts Charter School in San Francisco. He now attends San Francisco Ruth Asawa’s School of the Arts (SOTA).
His mother was a pianist, so he first began to develop his musical skills on the piano. In sixth grade, by way of the Rob Schneider Music Foundation music program at , he took up the saxophone.
Duke was accepted into the band program at SOTA after auditioning with the saxophone and has since branched out to learn other instruments such as the accordian, guitar, balalaika, and the recorder. According to Duke, the recorder was used “in the Baroque and pre-Baroque classical eras before flutes were mainstream in orchestras. Mostly, Telemann flute sonatas are recorder-style.” As he describes it, the recorder looks like a fipple type flute that is "somewhat like a whistle with an open-hold, flute.”
Duke enjoys the undeveloped, "forest-like" parts of this coastside city, but it has been a challenge growing up as a person of mixed heritage in Pacifica. He is of Japanese, Irish and English descent. While some in the community accept his diversity, there has been some hardship he has faced over the years. Duke holds out hope for change, however.
“Give people time to open up to new ideas and hopefully, they’ll change,” he said.
With the advent of the new and the the potential for balance in demographics, he sees this change occurring sooner rather than later in Pacifica.
Meanwhile, he spends most of his time studying and playing music. Right now he's reading The Stranger by Albert Camus, which Duke summarizes as being a short book “about existentialism and a guy who is indifferent about life. Each day is the same and even when his mother dies, he doesn’t really feel much about it.”
His favorite course of study is language with Russian being on the top of the list. As a senior at SOTA, he is planning for his future career as a translator and will continue to pursue his music.
In addition to studying language, he likes to practice his guitar at Mori Point. San Pedro Park is also a point of interest because of the wide, open space.
"You can go out there and play music when you’re feeling down,” he said.
He performs what he describes as folk rock for the public whenever he can.
To see Duke Hardcastle performing an original work, check out the video to your right and visit the Chit Chat Café on Saturday, Feb. 26 at 6:30pm.