He grew up the youngest son of a dairy farming family near Anamosa, Iowa. His earliest professional experience included performing western swing music in regional dance halls. In high school, gigging garage Rock bands added to his stylistic influences, as Yanda fell in love with guitarists Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Page.
He attended Coe College where he was introduced to jazz and avant garde 20th Century music by maverick trumpeter & university mentor, Paul Smoker. Yanda then spent several years on Chicago’s jazz scene before moving to New York to work with longtime collaborator Phil Haynes. Since then, Yanda has recorded his own music on Regional Cookin’ and Home Road and released recordings with Phil Haynes & Free Country, Damon Short, and Herb Robertson.