The Jedi Force Behind Yoder Productions – An Interview w/ Chris Yoder

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

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I would have to have to say that I am a believer in serendipity, at least to some degree. When it comes to the entertainment industry “make it or break it” scenarios can result from a handshake, a well-worded email, or from someone saying “you have to see this or listen to this.” There’s no replacement for hard work but no one frowns when the stars align either. Chicago has one of the premier electronic scenes in the states. From hosting globally-renowned massives to featuring some of the most established venues in the biz, Chicago is definitely a locale where you can easily realize a little funky beat never hurt anybody, and Chris Yoder, of Yoder Productions, calls it home.

A’Damaged Pro – Have you always lived in Chi-Town?

Chris Yoder – I grew up in the NW suburbs of Chicago all my life and then did 5 years at Illinois State University and have recently lived in Chicago for the past 4 years.

A’Damaged Pro – When did you first get introduced to the scene? In your opinion, are there any noticeable differences in the scene between now and then?

Chris Yoder – I first got introduced to the scene when I was still on my 5th year at Illinois State. I came up to the city for the weekend, tagging along with a buddy of mine who was DJ’ing Chicago’s legendary night club, SPYBAR. I was introduced to one of SPYBAR’s resident DJ’s, KALENDR who has ever since opened big doors for me.

Notible Differences: I would say that the scene has grown tremendously. Especially for what I do. I remember when I first started filming nightclubs in Chicago there was really only one other videographer in the city that was doing what I was trying to do. I think with the education and rapid growth of dance music there are a lot more people tuned into the scene. I see more and more videographers tapping into the scene and trying to make a name for themselves.

A’Damaged Pro – What about EDM and the community particularly speaks to you?

Chris Yoder – The connection between the music and the people as well as the energy at shows. It’s a different scene unlike any other. It’s cool that the majority of the people that I work with I can call my friends.

A’Damaged Pro – Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?

Chris Yoder – Truthfully, when it came to house music or “EDM” I had never really heard of it until I was on my last year of college in 2011. I was your typical college kid that drank keg beer and listened to frat-rap. As for “outside” the electronic scene, I grew up on Dave Matthews Band, Incubus, O.A.R. and that type of music in my high school years. Then in college I went through my Wiz Khalifa, Mac Miller or “Frat-Rap” phase. (Still refreshing to listen to stuff like that on occasion.)

A’Damaged Pro –  How did you feel stepping into your first event/festival?

Chris Yoder – Honestly, the first music festival I had ever filmed was Ultra Music Festival which was 4 months after I had gotten my first “real camera”. I was invited down to film for an artist and had NO CLUE that festivals like Ultra exsisted. I was mind blown. It was like being a little kid at a carnival or something except I had an all access pass.

A’Damaged Pro – What inspired you to get behind the camera for the first time?

Chris Yoder – I grew up skating, so I always used to make skating videos with my friends when we were young. I lost interest in skating during my high school years but I usually still had a camera just to document stupid things. Then once college came around I dropped the camera until my last year at State. I went and bought a crappy $300 hand held camera from Best Buy and started filming my “last days of college” and started making little edits in iMovie.

A’Damaged Pro – What was your first gig?

Chris Yoder – My first paid gig was a music video for a rapper down at State. My first paid club gig was for a promoter in Chicago at a club called V-live that closed a couple years ago.

A’Damaged Pro –  You’ve had some pretty great opportunities come your way. How did you start linking up with artists and getting on the festival circuit? Who was the first artist to give you a shot?

Chris Yoder – I first started at SPYBAR while being “taken under the wing” of a well known & respected Chicago DJ named Kalendr who happens to be a resident at SPYBAR. I started linking up with all the dopest Chicago DJ’s, Kalendr, Inphinity, Bad Boy Bill, Steve Smooth, Alex Peace, Dj Bam Bam, Mixing Marc, Jordan V and the list continues. After a year of doing videos at SPYBAR, I started working for a company called REACT PRESENTS, who owns and hosts events at such venues and festivals as The MID, Concord Music Hall, Aragon Ballroom, Spring Awakening Music Festival, Summer Set Music Festival & North Coast Music Festival. They bring some of the biggest talent to Chicago. So, being their in-house videographer for all their events, I was shaking hands with the best of the best and since then have been doing work for artists outside of Chicago venues/festivals. But as for the FIRST artists that I received a check from was 3LAU. We did a promo video of him at Congress Theater when he was first on the come up.

A’Damaged Pro – What’s the most interesting environment you’ve shot in before?

Chris Yoder – I just recently did two weeks in ASIA with Carnage. That was pretty dope. We saw a ton of cities and different lifestyles while we were out there.

A’Damaged Pro – Helicopter POV…exhilarating or nauseating?

Chris Yoder – Exhilarating / Scary as shit. Especially when your hanging half way out of the copter to get a shot you want.

A’Damaged Pro –  Do you have any established residencies or is it all freelance?

Chris Yoder – I would consider myself a freelance videographer at all times but also with “residences” at SPYBAR, The MID, Concord Music Hall & all REACT PRESENTS events.

A’Damaged Pro –  Any events you’re looking forward to closing out the summer with?

Chris Yoder – Summer Set Music Festival. Its another event that REACT PRESENTS puts on that takes place in Sommer Set, WI. Its one of those outdoor festivals that you tent out. I get very limited time to “be in nature” with living in the city and traveling so it’s nice to do a festival where you’re out in the middle of nowhere, with your friends, doing what you love while filming some of the biggest acts. And then in Sept. I’ll be hopping on the Carnage “Parental Advisory” Bus Tour. A bus tour has been something I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do, at least once.

A’Damaged Pro – Do you ever just attend events or are you always working? How do you find a balance?

Chris Yoder – I would say I’m usually always working. Especially if it’s a festival. Every once and a while I’ll go to the clubs/or a venue in Chicago if I have the night off to check out an artist I really like.

A’Damaged Pro –  Ever thought of making a documentary, given the diversity of source material?

Chris Yoder – I’m actually in the beginning process of working on a documentary for Carnage. Pretty sure it’s going to be called “UNO”. Another talented videographer Chris Cordova and myself have been filming Carnage for and entire year from EDC Vegas 2013 to this past EDC Vegas 2014. Capturing highlighting events as well as the progression of how fast he blew up.


A’Damaged Pro –  Is there a festival that simply stands out to you as a “must film?”

Chris Yoder – Well, as of this moment I was supposed to be out in Belgium with Carnage for Tomorrowland but had a ton of family stuff going on that I couldn’t be far from. I’m beating myself up as Carnage is sending me pictures along with seeing everything on social media. I definitely want to experience that next year.

A’Damaged Pro –  Coolest fan moment caught on film..

Chris Yoder – Coolest fan moment caught on film.. I would have to say a couple months back I was filming for a pop artist named Guinevere. She had a high school kid facebook message her fan page asking her if he could take her to prom (since he had never been). She never responded to his message but instead contacted his parents to get in on the plan and bought plane tickets to fly to his hometown and suprise him on prom day. We snuck up to his house the day of, with the local news covering the event. We walked up to his front door and when he answered the door the kid was in complete shock. He continued to explain to everyone that the music Guinevere produces has helped him through some really hard times in his life. It was a reminder that this music that artists are making REALLY impacts individuals lives.

A’Damaged Pro’s final words…

What started off as a pet project to help him document the last days of college has evolved into a monster of unchartable potential. It’s truly surreal when you can see how far someone has come in such a short time. A genuine element of depth is achieved when they can attest to never forgetting where they came from and how much they truly appreciate the opportunities they have been afforded. I don’t even have to wish him continued success because I know he wants to continue honing his craft and perfecting the art of immersing you into the experience.  Although EDM hasn’t always been the beat that his heart bounced to, I’m sure it’s found a happy home there now. Whether he’s in a helicopter or a rickshaw, my money is on that he’s still rolling…

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