ICHELLE XU/THE HOYA Mary Ellen Funke (SFS ‘15) recently released her first solo EP.
Mary Ellen Funke (SFS ‘15) recently released her first solo EP.

Mary Ellen Funke (SFS ’15) is your average Hoya with a twist: When she isn’t studying for her Culture and Politics major, she’s writing, recording and performing her own music. With the release of her first solo EP, Funke is gaining recognition as an artist. Beware: This singer-songwriter will melt your heart.

How did you get started?
I got started with music my junior year in high school. My roommate played guitar and I started playing hers, just picking it up for fun.

Who are your musical influences?
My main influences would probably be Bon Iver and Justin Vernon, in general. Sort of the whole genre of folk I really look to for inspiration. The song “Virginia May” by Gregory Alan Isakov describes my personal musical style.

Have you ever written your own music?
Yes. I write mostly songs about things that have happened in my life, but I try and make them more general and about the human experience. Most of them are slower and mellower.

Has music always been a part of your life or is this your own independent project?
I have five siblings, and none of them have pursued music to the degree that I have, so it’s something that I came to on my own, which has been kind of cool.

Are you involved in any musical groups on campus?
I’m in the Saxatones, and I was in a band last year called Mellenfolly. And then this summer, I recorded my own solo EP and released it.

How has being a musician improved your academic experience?
In a way, it almost hinders it, because I spend a lot less time on my homework as I should sometimes. It has been fun to delve into because I’m in the School of Foreign Service, so I don’t really take music classes. I took recording arts in the spring, which was really fun, because I just got to meet all the professors in that department. I guess the best part has been discovering all the facilities that Georgetown has to offer. We have a recording studio and only five people in the university have permission to use it!

Do you hope to dabble in any more music classes before you graduate?
I mean, it’s hard with all the requirements that I have academically. But I have access to the recording studio, so I’ve been doing that.

Have you been able to find connections between what you’re studying and your music?
Definitely. It’s been fun to examine from an inside and outside perspective the culture of the music scene at Georgetown because it’s so small and not very well known. It’s interesting to see how that grows and tries to thrive. It is small but vibrant, I would say, and growing. The people that are involved are very, very passionate about it and working hard to make it more established.

What are your future plans and how do you hope to incorporate music into your life?
It’s hard to say what my future plans are. My EP was pretty well received. I got it reposted on music blogs and things like that. Now I’m starting to pick up real gigs in Washington, D.C. So if I could go that route, I would love to, but I think I’m just going to keep balancing the two right now because I can do it as a hobby so far. I’m just going to wait it out and see where I go from there.

What would you say to people to describe your EP?
It’s the kind of thing — this is what I always say — that you should listen to as you’re sitting in bed, right before you go to sleep. Turn the lights off, put it on, and listen. It’s one of those things that is very reflective on the nature of life. It’s only three songs, and I produced and recorded everything myself and played most of the instruments. It’s sort of just about, since I’m in college, the transitory nature of our lives and how we’re always moving and doing things.

What advice would you give to a Georgetown student that is interested in becoming more involved with music on campus?
I would say just don’t be afraid of the fact that it’s not very present and just reach out and try to meet as many people on the scene as you can and get your music heard. And I think the rest should just come naturally.

Listen to Funke’s EP online at

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *