Here we speak to Vishaali Ganesh ​(2021, Geography) - senior member of Sisters of Funk, a 12-piece all-female and non-binary band who are known for the covers which are guaranteed to get people on the dancefloor, particularly at a ball!

Could you introduce yourself to the Women's Network?

My name is Vishaali Ganesh (or Vish) and I am a third-year student studying Geography, and my favourite part is definitely Feminist Geography. I’m Sri Lankan and I love to sing and play the Veena, which is a South-Indian classical instrument.


What are the Sisters of Funk and how long have you been involved with the band?

Sisters of Funk are an all-female and non-binary band based in Oxford. We play a variety of funk, soul and pop songs at many venues including balls, the Bullingdon and society events. We have also recently had a few gigs in London. I have been involved with the band as a singer since Hilary of my first year, and now am running the band with one of the other members.

How would you describe your musical style?

We are a 12-piece band and are a mix of Oxford students as well as musicians who live and work in Oxford.

I think that the music scene, whether that is here or in general, can be quite dominated by men. It is sometimes difficult to find a space only for female musicians to grow and not have to compete constantly. It is also an amazing group to be part of; everyone is so supportive and caring, and it is an incredibly safe space to try out new music and explore different genres.


Who are your favourite musical influences and why? How do you try to incorporate them into Sisters of Funk?

I love the feel of Snarky Puppy’s songs, as well as Tina Turner and Adele. We try to perform predominantly female artists’ songs, and we take on any band member’s song suggestions to include in our set list.

We have a couple of London gigs that we are very excited about. One is at Juju’s and the other is in Hootananny. We also have a festival performance in the works, and of course many of the balls happening in Trinity term. We are really looking forward to our annual Valentine’s day gig.

Music is the heart and soul of much of the extra curricular life in Oxford. How has St John’s helped your musical journey?

I have been learning music, both singing and the Veena, since I was 4 years old. I learned both of these in Carnatic music (South-Indian classical) so I didn’t do much of this at school. Since starting university, I feel that music has really helped me grow in confidence and I love being part of the music scene here. There is an immense amount of talent e.g. with other bands, collectives and musicians. It’s very easy to message another musician and just jam or make music together. SJC has incredibly talented musicians here and most are doing different degrees anyway. The Arts Week showcase in February 2024 had amazing musicians and bands. I do think though that the College can sometimes be unnecessarily strict about music equipment.

The band have a penchant for performing at College balls! How many balls have you performed at this year, and how does the SJC Ball last year stack up?

The SJC Ball was my favourite gig that I have performed at. It was an incredible experience to be singing on stage with the band, whilst also looking out into the crowd and seeing my closest friends supporting us. During the year, we tend to perform at around 10-12 balls or College events, and it definitely gets very busy during Trinity term! The balls are a great place to perform at because our setlists are always high-energy, as is the audience there.

What are the best and worst things about being an undergraduate student at SJC in 2024?

The best thing is being surrounded by my friends here. I have found that my year is very close, as well as with other years. I love my friends here and it doesn’t feel clique-y. It makes it really easy to fit in and spend a lot of time in College. The facilities here are also great, especially Kendrew Café and the gyms. I would say that one of the worst things is that it can tend to feel divided between College members and the actual College itself.


Is it a good time to be a female student at SJC?

I would say that the role of Women's Officer is a great addition to the JCR. We have free Women's lunches, sanitary products and self-defence classes. There is also a Women's Dinner every year.

What are your ambitions for after you graduate? Will you be keeping up your music?

I definitely want to grow my music out of Oxford and experience the London music scene. I think it will be quite different, but I am excited to try it out. I am taking a year out to travel, and after that I hope to work in London or do a Masters abroad.


Sisters of Funk: