Another day another allusion to Vladimir Nabokov’s tale of taboo lust, Lolita. The titular nymphet has been all the rage lately when it comes to the pop culture realm, with references popping up in CW shows (don’t pretend you don’t watch Pretty Little Liars) and Lana Del Rey records alike. Now, Lo — standing four feet ten in one sock — has emerged from the haze of literary relevancy once more, this time in the form of “Trixie,” alter ego of Neon Trees frontman Tyler Glenn and the inspiration for both the band’s newest album and Facebook application.
The Trixie character, according to Glenn, runs throughout the band’s upcoming album, Picture Show, although she is not directly mentioned. “Trixie is sort of my feminine alter ego if you want to go that far,” Glenn says. “She kind of embodies this desired woman with heart glasses, a kind of tip to Lolita and that innocence as well. But she’s also got a dark side.”
“It’s the innocence of youth and the attraction of youth for me,” Glenn says, explaining why he took inspiration from the book (yes, he read the book) and the Stanley Kubrick adaptation. “I’m constantly obsessed with wanting to stay young, not necessarily visually through plastic surgery or Botox; it’s more about staying young at heart.”
Glenn references the story by outfitting Trixie — who appears in a music video for the single “Everybody Talks” — with a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses, Lolita’s iconic accessory in the Kubrick film. He also sought to bring his fans into the experience via that same pair of shades.
After releasing the cover image from the single — complete with amorous eyewear — Glenn started noticing that fans were creating their own pictures inspired by that art, taking on the persona of Trixie via her heart glasses (and, subsequently, Glenn, who Trixie connotes). As a result, the band created a Facebook app that allows fans to easily make their own images, superimposing the signature sunglasses over webcam snaps.
The app — which is essentially a diversion in many respects — represents a wider opportunity for Glenn and his band, the opportunity to really connect with their fans prior to the new album’s release. “I think we were kind of rushed into [the music world] because of the success of the first record — we didn’t really have as much of a game plan and I always felt like we were catching up,” Glenn says. “But I think with this record we really have an opportunity.”
Taken as an homage to Lolita herself, the concept of filling those heart-shaped shades is a little disquieting (Do you really want to embody a character who was robbed of her childhood by a sad, sorry madman?), but we’re going to go ahead and trust Glenn here when he says that Trixie is more a nod to the story than an adaptation.
Picture Show drops on April 17.