By Dalton Spangler

Ylva performing at the Vulkan Arena during the 2018 Oslo Musikkfest. Photo by Dalton Spangler.

Musicians often differ on how to define “making it” as an artist. Ylva, a 17-year-old pop singer from Kristiansand, Norway, had her big break when she became runner-up in the Norwegian television singing competition “The Stream.”

She has signed with Universal Records, is being filmed for a reality TV show and is also lucky enough to have a loving father deeply involved with the music industry in Norway. He works as her manager while also being a touring musician himself as the guitarist for a death metal band, Blood Red Throne.

Many artists would classify her success as “making it.” After all, she is well-established with a world-class record deal and a feature in a TV show, and a manager with connections inside and outside Norway; but for the young pop star, Norwegian fame is only the first step. Her ultimate goal is to be known internationally across Europe and maybe even the U.S.

“Originally, I was just a girl going to school. I’d sing sometimes at this musical house that we had but my dad signed me up for the competition and I suddenly then came to second place and my dream kinda started,” Ylva said.

A painting by shows a young boy looking out over a foggy valley at a far-off city of gold.
“Far, Far Away Soria Moria Palace Shimmered like Gold” by famous Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen illustrated the tale in a painting that depicts a young boy overlooking a foggy valley that stretches between him and a city of gold breaching the hills on the horizon. From the Nasjonalmuseet, The Fine Art Collections

There is a famous Norwegian fairy tale called “Soria Moria Castle” about a poor boy named Halvor and his journey to rescue a princess and retrieve a ring that grants wishes to the ring bearer. An allegory for finding perfect happiness, the story equates reaching Soria Moria with every person’s ultimate goal. One individual’s vision of Soria Moria and the road leading there may be vastly different from others’ and finding Soria Moria is ultimately up to the individuals own desires and choices. 

At present, Ylva sees herself struggling through the valley of fog. Her personal Soria Moria – reaching an international audience – seems in reach, but her path differs from her father’s journey through death metal in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

“I’ve been singing since I was little and I’ve always wanted to do something different,” Ylva said.  She fell in love with R&B and now looks towards idols such as Beyonce, Adele, Frank Ocean, and SZA to guide her through the fog.

“This is a dream, of course, I’m just doing what I can to keep it up. I love to write music. I love to be on stage. I love to share my message to everyone through my music,” she said.

Ylva performs on H&M’s stage outside the Vulkan Arena during the 2018 Oslo Musikkfest. Photo by Dalton Spangler

Ylva constantly makes new music, recording in Copenhagen and Stockholm, as well as her hometown of Kristiansand.

“I just came out with a single in February, so now we’re kinda trying to find a song to reach to more people. So, I’m working really hard,” she said. “I’m in the studio every weekend because I go to school but it’s summer vacation soon, so I’ll have a lot of spare time.”

Her latest single, “Be My Valentine” is available on Spotify.

Between school and her career, there is little time for anything else.

“Sometimes it’s just alright and other times its kind of hard. Right now it’s in the middle of exams and stuff. So. that’s tough,” she said.

Despite these challenges, she remains loyal to her dream.

“I always pick music first. I think that’s the most important thing. I’m going to be finishing high school and everything, but if I had to choose I would choose music.”