About DOPE, from composer Katahj Copley

DOPE is the opening track to the Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble's latest album, "Influences and Expressions", releasing on October 20, 2023. DOPE is the first collaboration between ATU and composer Katahj Copley and he has become a crowd-favorite / SWE-favorite, having already returned for a second recording session and as a summer composer-in-residence.

About DOPE, Copley writes:

The first semester of my masters- I was in a different headspace. I had finished writing Where the Sky Has No Stars and at the moment I felt renewed. I didn’t know what else to write, so I began to write music that felt disingenuous to my spirit (music that will never see the light of day)- I was going on autopilot and I had lost my voice. During one of my lessons at UT Austin, my professor Omar Thomas and I began listening to a piece I had mocked up a couple of days before. We both weren’t feeling it, and finally I asked him to turn off the piece and I told him it didn’t sound like me. I felt lost creatively. He then asked me what music I listen to. I began to name only band music composers. He asked me again, and I told him outside of wind band music I’m in love with Rap, R & B, Jazz and Soul.

Then he asked an important question- “Why do you make a barrier between those ideals?”

I didn’t have an answer.

He continued, “If you create something that is a celebration of who you are, the music you grew up with, and the music that inspires you now… then that would be dope…”

And with that this piece was born. DOPE is a gumbo of all the music that inspires and influences me from Thundercat to Kendrick Lamar to Miles Davis to Hiatus Kaiyote and more, this piece is in essence a deep look into my musical world.