Artist of the Week: Tadeusz ‘Tadju’ Takahashi

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What began in a middle school band room in northern California has resulted in a multiplicity of sounds, talents and modes of expression.

Tadeusz ‘Tadju’ Takahashi, a first-year music major at UCI, feels that music transcends several barriers between people. “Music is the only thing in my life that has really gripped me,” he explained.

Courtesy of Tadju Takahashi
Courtesy of Tadju Takahashi

Though he is only 18 years old, Takahashi has already accomplished more than some recording artists twice his age.

Takahashi, who is of Polish and Japanese descent, picked up his first musical instrument, a tenor saxophone, at age 11, in his hometown of San Mateo, California where he played in the school jazz band.

“The music programs in all the public schools are all really active,” Takahashi explained about San Mateo, a city 30 miles south of San Francisco. “They try to prepare you for the academic world of music.”

By eighth grade, Takahashi had taught himself to play the guitar and in high school formed a rock band with a few buddies who originally came together to help a friend write a song for a girl he liked. Takahashi composed the music and wrote the lyrics for that first song.

“It worked out for him!” he fondly remembers.

In high school, he also picked up drums and piano and learned to sing.

“You pick it up just by learning other instruments,” Takahashi explained about his singing.

Opting for a change of pace, Takahashi began auditioning for classical guitar programs at colleges last January, traveling to schools such as Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Northridge and finally, UC Irvine.

“That was the one that stood out,” Takahashi recalled about his guitar audition at UC Irvine. He quickly realized UCI was the place for him.

Since his arrival at UCI, Takahashi has been exposed to a wide array of opportunities he never could have imagined and is grateful for the Claire Trevor School of the Arts’ motivational music program, and its faculty’s receptiveness to students who want to become active performers.

“Even if it’s hard, they’ll tell you what you need to do,” Takahashi said. “The good thing about coming here is that you’re submerged in a new world. [The faculty] hear you without knowing who you are and you get their unfiltered opinion. One year ago, I wouldn’t have anticipated that this was the community I’d be in.”

Over the summer, to express his feelings about his transition from high school to college and his anxiety about leaving the last chapter of his life behind, Takahashi rearranged and converted his room into a mini recording studio, complete with several amps, a drum kit and eight microphones, and recorded eight songs, some with lyrics and others without, but all of his own composition. His bed conveniently fit in the closet, where he slept for several weeks.

Released in October via Sound Cloud, a social media site for musicians, “Farewell” is essentially a time capsule of Takahashi’s thoughts, feelings and musical composition choices during his high school years.

“I wanted it to be the sum up of everything and my saying goodbye to it,” Takahashi said about his first album, “a presentation of my evolution in music.”

“People don’t have to listen to the lyrics to hear the meaning. I want people to feel what I put into it, and all the effort and work it took to create it,” he continued.

The album’s title track is dedicated to Nima Salamat, Takahashi’s best friend from home. Before Takahashi’s relocation to Irvine in September, Salamat, who had been struggling with personal problems and has since remained in San Mateo to attend community college, told Takashi he didn’t know what he would do with his life when Takahashi was gone. The emotions this evoked in Takahashi radiate through this track.

“Don’t look away,” Takashi repeats throughout this slow, electronically produced composition.

“I just wanted the song to show that we’ve always been there for each other, and how I felt about him carrying on by himself,” he said. “We’re always going to be friends.”

Though he always appreciates opportunities to collaborate with other musicians and friends, such as those he has met thus far into his UCI career, Takahashi will always want to make his own music and expresses such personal themes.

“For me, I would get complete satisfaction in my life with just a regular job, as long as I could play music somewhere and have people hear it,” he said. “I think that’s my purpose in life. The ultimate goal is to be able to express myself through music.”

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