Photo by Hailun Ma, Animated illustration by Shibo Chen. Dress by Carven, vintage beret.


Rachel Trachtenburg Is The Activist We Need

We premiere her band Wooing’s latest song and talk cruelty-free beauty

You could consider Rachel Trachtenburg something of a champion multitasker. The 23-year-old musician, actress, model, and animal activist has her hands in quite a few different pots.

For one, she’s on the verge of releasing her new band Wooing’s debut EP, Day Dream Time Machine. Having been an accomplished musician since she began playing drums in her parents’ band, the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players, at the age of just six, only to later play in bands such as Supercute! and The Prettiots, Wooing is finally a band she can consider her very own.

Wooing originally started as Trachtenburg’s solo project with guitarist JR Thomason. Eventually, she had the desire to have a band once again, and thus Wooing became what it is today. “I didn’t want to have to keep being like, ‘Come to my show. My name. Me, me, me,’” she says. “That’s kind of how it started—and then it built into this whole thing. Now we all write the songs together.” Today, we’re excited to premiere “Tear World” off of the forthcoming EP, which is due to drop next month.

As a passionate animal activist, Trachtenburg incorporates political messages into her music. While “Tear World” may sound like your typical moody, head-banging psychedelic track, it’s actually inspired by the heart-wrenching documentary Blackfish, the story of the killer whale Tilikum, once held captive by SeaWorld. The lyrics come from whales' points of view, reflecting their suffering and desire to be free. Much like the documentary, the song tugs on some serious heartstrings with lyrics like, "Do you think the children can hear our screams?/ It’s enough to make their ears bleed."

The main inspiration behind the song is the fact that unfairly confined whales, who are in possession of their own languages, can't communicate with their fellow captives. “These mystical, amazing creatures are being jailed for our entertainment, and I think a big part of what urged me to write this song is how they can’t even communicate with each other due to being from different parts of the ocean,” says Trachtenburg. “How sad and depressing is it to think you’re at least in there with someone who’s just like you, but then you can’t understand what they’re saying?”

Photo by Hailun Ma, Illustration by Shibo Chen. Blouse by Sonia by Sonia Rykiel, tank top by Orla Kiely.

Trachtenburg’s persistent animal activism flows beyond her music and into other aspects of her life. Initially sparked by her mother’s own passion for animals, this movement has pretty much been a lifelong no-brainer for Trachtenburg.“I was raised vegetarian, so I was just always aware of that kind of stuff,” she says. “I watched Meet Your Meat at way too young of an age. I remember thinking, Why are my parents showing me this? I just was always exposed to the reality of things.”

This, naturally, led to her being as active as possible from a young age. “Since we moved to New York when I was younger, we started getting involved with more activism as far as local issues—such as getting horse carriages abolished, stopping pigeon netting, and other city-centric matters,” she says.

She’s also particularly aware of how problematic the beauty industry can be—especially on the animal testing front. We asked her how she keeps her regimen animal-friendly, and what beauty brands she chooses to fill her medicine cabinet with.

Aveda, in particular, stands out in Trachtenburg's routine. The skin care, hair, and cosmetics brand focuses heavily on creating products that are both luxurious and eco-friendly and has a slew of Earth Day initiatives, such as a Light The Way candle, with profits donated fully toward bringing years of clean water to those in need. Additionally, Aveda has just been officially PETA-approved as cruelty-free, making them the perfect match for Trachtenburg. (Not to mention, we can thank Aveda salon FOURTEENJAY co-founder Frank Rizzieri for Trachtenberg's flawless bob, pictured throughout the story).

The rest of her beauty regimen? Quite simple. You won’t catch her applying 10 products every morning followed by a nightly skin-care ritual. Rather, Trachtenburg keeps ingredients down to the bare minimum and, of course, cruelty-free. “I like to be able to pronounce the actual ingredients and be able to understand what they are,” she says. “I use things like coconut oil and rosehip oil and other super-natural products, which is why I get so excited for Aveda. They’ve been all-natural for so long, and they’re one of the far and few big companies that stand by that.”

Trachtenburg also has some advice for anyone looking to make their beauty regimen more animal-friendly: Read everything you can. “Just read. Read the ingredients, read about the company, read about who they’re owned by. Whenever I go to the pharmacy to get a new beauty product, or I’m excited about something new coming out, I sit there and Google everything about them. Just a few minutes of research will make you feel much better about what you’re putting on your skin.”

Photo by Hailun Ma, Illustration by Shibo Chen. Dress by Cynthia Rowley.

So, when Trachtenburg isn’t writing killer psych rock songs with powerful meanings or fighting the good fight for animal rights (or modeling, or acting), what else is she up to? Well, on top of her May 10 EP release and a month-long residency at Pianos on New York’s Lower East Side, she has a video project in the works. It involves an upstate barn, a cult, and a little girl magically healed of blindness. Sounds a little mysterious, a little weird, and we’ll for sure be keeping our eyes peeled for it.

For now, though, check out Wooing's "Tear World" for yourself, below.

Photographer: Hailun MaIllustration/Animation: Shibo ChenStylist: Sam BatesMakeup: Nana HiramatsuHair: Frank RizzieriPhoto Assistants: Sookyung Jung, Casanova Cabrera.