Ozlem Esen is mesmerized by dancer, style freak and martial artist Ylva Falk. Photo Chloe Bonnard.
IN a world in which certain women have become famous for doing nothing but promoting themselves and glorifying their non-lives on social media, it’s refreshing to meet someone of substance who has actually got things going on.
When you first meet Ylva Falk, and you look beyond her unusually striking beauty and ever-changing chameleon style, there stands a confidence reminiscent of an ancient warrior queen. It’s no accident perhaps that her name means ‘Falcon Wolf’. A modern day warrior, as she starts to talk her blue eyes widen with wonder and magic as she tells stories of faraway lands, leaving you wanting more.
Ylva was born in Sweden and ripened in Paris. She’s the girl you wanted to be at school that every boy wanted to be with … with her Kung Fu, Muay Thai background she could kick your butt in one swift move and dance off into the distance in another. She is a Quentin Tarantino movie. The lady is a singer, dancer, choreographer, sculptor … to name a few of her talents … and she’s destined to be bigger than ABBA. I caught up with her to see what is next on the horizon.
Ylva, can you tell us a little about who you are and how you grew up?
I grew up in the Swedish countryside in the middle of the forest with no one around, only nature and animals, hippie parents and big dreams. I’ve always felt like an alien so I knew instantly I didn’t fit in. As the outsider I had nothing to lose and no one to follow but myself and my ideas. We didn’t really have TV (or were not allowed to watch it) so my early inspiration came from my dad’s record collection, especially the covers. It included a wide range of music and styles, everything from Bob Marley, Frank Zappa, Pink Floyd, Run DMC, to Dolly Parton, The Sugarcubes, Madonna and Michael Jackson. My passion was dancing and I started to take dance classes when I was four or five. I knew early on that I loved being on stage. My other passion was to dress up. By the age of six
By the age of six I was already going to secondhand shops to find clothes to make mini fashion shows. I tried all the most extravagant clothes and made up stories and characters that fitted the outfits. When I was nine I started going to rock festivals and my mother helped me to make outfits. I coloured my hair in fluorescent colours and by 10 years old I had dreadlocks. My parents divorced when I was 11 and I moved closer to the city with my mum, so there were more dance classes. I left home when I was 16 and went to a contemporary dance school in Gothenburg. After some years of dancing, break battles, eating disorders, depression, control issues and therapy I decided I needed to leave Sweden and see if I might fit better somewhere else, so I went to Paris and joined a hip-hop dance school. I fell in love with life again. Since moving there I’ve also been travelling a lot, physical and spiritual journeys, meeting shamans in Mexico, living and training with Shaolin monks in China, performing at Miami Art Basel and Coachella …
What are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on choreography and costumes for a show with my performance art group House of Drama for an event in Moscow for Louboutin. I’ve also been filming for a movie, Dracula Is Not Dead directed by Luizo Vega, in which I play the second lead. I’ve also been dj-ing and performing here and there. In my spare time I’ve been studying with my friend Lisa Traveso to become a personal trainer. I’m also into Jivamukti yoga.
What does a typical day entail for you?
Wake up not too early, like around 10, spend 30 minutes on singing exercises (because I want to become a singer one day) while doing the dishes and preparing breakfast, checking my mails, making to do lists in my home office … preparing performances and outfits, maybe a meeting for a job or an audition … then some kind of sport (yoga, dance or power training) cooking some nice vegan food and either go dj-ing or performing somewhere.
Who are your biggest style icons?
That’s a hard one … maybe Verushka? Also Ninja and Kung Fu movies, the ’90s, Sci-fi movies and all the world’s tribes.
What defines style and sex appeal to you?
Style: It’s not what you wear it’s how you put it together. It’s what you represent and stand for, without fear. It’s about listening to your heart. Sex appeal: No fear! Knowing and playing with different sides of you. Letting fantasies out, not judging, and having fun.
What are your ultimate goals in life?
To never stop evolving. To be happy. To have kids. To be the best version of myself. To find inner peace. To go with the flow. To follow my heart. To inspire others to be themselves and to be strong. To continue to go for my dreams. To always learn new things. To have a place in the countryside where people can learn and share. To realize my own artistic project Y.L.V.A.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From my life, my friends, love stories and journeys. From my inner dreamworld.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Always classics like Sade and Erykah Badu but also Oko Ebomdo aka 19, Bonnie Banane, Tommy Cash, Hamza …
What does love mean to you?
Everything! In every sense. Living from the heart, being generous, letting love in, falling in love, giving love, receiving love.
What would you want to be remembered for?
As someone generous in my art and a person you’d want to have around that lived her life to the fullest.
What scares you? What excites you?
What is happening in the world right now. What excites me is martial art, nature, being on stage and doing my thing …
If you could swap lives with someone, who would it be?
Bruce Lee or Frank Zappa. Or some kind of animal, a falcon or a panther (in the wild of course).
Best moment you have had in life so far?
Oh another hard, hard one … so either when I was in a cave overlooking untouched land outside L.A with the guy I was falling big time in love with … or that same week on stage at Coachella. Or while taking mushrooms with a shaman in Mexico. Or the first time I made love with the guy I am currently super mega in love with! Or when I I trained in kung fu in China … or the first time dancing in Breghain, Berlin!
Too many good moments in life.
What does the future hold for Ylva?
I hope a lot of love and kids and sustainable living in a tree … the hippie dream! But also a music project that is slowly evolving. Be active and trust life and what shall happen will happen.