Editor’s Note, September 9, 2022 at 12 p.m.: A previous version of this article misspelled the name of the band. The correct spelling is Night Hawk, not Nighthawk.
While most Bowdoin students returned to a campus marked by pre-pandemic normalcy this fall, Colter Adams ’24 and Peyton Semjen ’24 took the semester off to explore their musical passions with their new band, Night Hawk.
Both members of the on-campus band Mistaken for Strangers, Adams and Semjen formed Night Hawk while living in Boston this summer. The pair named their band after Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting, which pictures four individuals at a diner in an empty urban scene late in the evening.
“We were both really drawn to Edward Hopper’s art,” Adams said. “I think there’s something about the way that he uses light and space that just lends itself well to storytelling. … We’re basically trying to turn the painting into a whole album.”
Inspired by the figures in Hopper’s painting, Adams and Semjen plan to produce a concept album about two characters who fall in love after meeting at a diner late at night. Semjen explained that she and Adams were also drawn to Night Hawk because of its connections to contemporary feelings of isolation.
“We chose Night Hawk specifically [because] that painting is so timeless and evokes this nostalgic feeling of urban isolation. It was painted in the 1940s, but it still resonates today,” she said. “You’ve got these three or four characters inside of the diner and you see that open, empty, isolated space outside of them, and it makes you think about the importance of human connection in this often isolating and empty space we’re all in. I think a big part of our album is the idea that the person in the painting is stuck in time, but yet the world still kind of moves around them.”
Adams spoke fondly on the beginning of his and Semjen’s partnership.
“We’ve had this creative partnership for so long. We met at the very beginning of [college], as first years, we’ve been writing little songs together and performing covers,” Adams said. “We really wanted time to take that seriously and give [our partnership] the time it deserves to kind of see what we could do. I’ve been in bands before, but with this project, I have so much confidence in the songwriting process with Peyton—I feel like we’re so in sync that it’s almost an insular thing.”
After building their online presence, Adams and Semjen wrote and released two songs, “Sundress” on July 28 and “Dust” on August 31. The band has platforms on Instagram, Twitter and Spotify.
The pair plans to spend a few months in Washington, D.C. before finishing their semester off in Nashville. In Washington, Adams will work for Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and work on campaigns for the midterm elections, while Semjen will intern with AmeriCorps.
While they are hopeful for a productive fall, Adams and Semjen plan to return to campus for the spring semester in January.
“We’re definitely coming back,” Semjen said. “We can’t leave our Mistaken for Strangers crew for too long!”