Podcast Spotlight: Kanata’s Castle

Kanata's Castle

If you’re looking for a Star Wars podcast that’s rated “E” for everyone look no further than Kanata’s Castle. I spoke with hosts Becca and Devon about the past, present, and future of their podcast.

What was your introduction to Star Wars?

Becca: My mom. Ok, my brother too, but mainly my mom. She loved science fiction stories and movies, so when Star Wars came out, she had a big influence on us seeing the movie. Keep in mind, I wasn’t even 4-years-old at the time and Star Wars was my first movie theater experience.

Devon: In the summer of 1977, I was 16, and my grandfather said he was going to take the whole family to see this movie he heard about. He heard that the audience was booing and hissing at the villain and cheering and clapping for the hero. It was an experience he remembered from his childhood. After seeing the Star Destroyer seemingly fly over our heads I have instantly transported to that galaxy far far away, then after Luke Skywalker watched the twin suns set I was instantly in love and was going to marry him. 

I remember the family talking about the movie while leaving the theater and all of us were saying there had to be a sequel since Darth Vader isn’t dead. I saved up my babysitting money and bought the soundtrack album.  I would lay on my bedroom floor for hours listening to it and reliving the movie in my mind. My love for John Williams’ Star Wars soundtrack began a lifelong love and appreciation for movie soundtracks. My younger brother, who was 12 at the time, would see the movie many times that summer. I remember how he snuck a cassette recorder into the theater and taped the audio of the whole movie. We would lay on the family room floor listening to it over and over again.

Who are some of your favorite characters and have those favorites changed over time?

Becca: Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker is my ultimate favorite, followed by Ahsoka Tano, Padme Amidala, Leia, Luke, and Rey.

Devon: Luke Skywalker will always be my number one. Followed by Obi-Wan after the prequels came out. I’ve always had an affection for Chewbacca and R2-D2 as well. With each new book, comic, and movie I become attached to someone new and exciting but Luke will never be overshadowed till the day I die.

When did you make the decision to start your own Star Wars podcast? Had you been a part of other podcasts (either as a host or guest) before? 

Becca: My podcasting days started back in 2014 (I think) as a guest on the 10th episode of Coffee With Kenobi. After that, I was invited as a guest on The Cantina Cast, Jedi News, and Unmistakably Star Wars. Eventually, I formed an alliance, no pun intended, with The Cantina Cast and Coffee With Kenobi, and started blogging for both.

That, in turn, led to my first Podcast, “Tarkin’s Top Shelf.” During that time, I met Devon (Red5Mom) and we began working with another fan site that didn’t quite go the way we thought it would and so, we regrouped and decided to make our own Podcast. A Star Wars Podcast that would be a safe haven for any fan of the galaxy far, far away. In other words, a place where any fan would feel welcome without being judged or questioned on their knowledge and love for Star Wars. In essence, a Podcast that’s rated “E” for everyone.

Devon: While attending Star Wars Celebration Anaheim in 2015 I discovered about podcasts. That Celebration was my first. I started listening to a few podcasts while traveling home on the plane. Brews and Blasters, The Star Wars Report, and My Star Wars Story were the first in my lineup. I became a patron supporter of The Star Wars Report for a few years. I wanted to become a contributor in some way so I started a blog at Red5Mom.com soon after. My story or my ‘AWAKENING’ to Star Wars fandom can be heard in the talented Scott Ryfun’s “My Star Wars Story” podcast.

Being a guest on a few podcasts between 2015 and before Kanata’s Castle was launched gave me a taste for being a part of the Star Wars podcast community. Becca has much more eloquently told the rest of the story. I would like to add though that our decision to become a part of the podcast network at Retrozap.com has helped us grow in a safe and supportive Star Wars fan community. Also, Red5Mom.com no longer exists. I just didn’t have time to contribute to it. It’s all I can do to keep up with the podcast.

How would you describe your podcast to someone who hasn’t heard of it yet? How is it different from other Star Wars podcasts?

Becca: As I said in the above response, Kanata’s Castle is designed to be a show for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in your journey as a Star Wars fan, all that matters is that you’re a fan. We get together on a biweekly basis to have fun and talk about Star Wars. For us, it’s about having fun and sharing our love through a motherly lens. You know, an unconditional love. As Shmi taught Anakin, “the biggest problem in the universe is no one helps each other.” Well, we’re here to help. If we can make someone happy for an hour or laugh a little, then we’ve done our part in this big universe.

Both of you are Moms and, like me, are old enough to remember when the original trilogy came out but also love the sequel trilogy. In my opinion your ages, love of Star Wars over the years and your experiences as being mothers gives you a different perspective on Star Wars than a lot of other podcasts. I’m curious if you agree with this and if listeners to your podcast have mentioned this in their feedback.

Becca: Well, here’s the thing, Star Wars is an even bigger universe now then it was back in the days of the Original Trilogy or even the Prequel Trilogy days. That said, there’s so much more Star Wars to choose from. No one is pigeonholed to like it all. As for me, A New Hope will always be my “go to” Star Wars film, but I’m partial to the Prequels because I was going through a lot of the same experiences as those characters were at that time in my life. Basically, each trilogy is designed to fit the generation of the time, and the Sequel Trilogy fits the youth of today and their challenges, and struggles. For us “old timers,” well, it’s our turn to be the mentor and guide them through the journey of taking their first step into a larger world.

Devon: My children grew up knowing and having Star Wars in their lives.  I have loved and appreciated all things Star Wars the last 40 years (gosh that’s a long time). As my children grew there were things about Star Wars that I found relatable that I might not have noticed years before. And as moms with life and parenting challenges both Becca and I have had, we find ourselves comparing and noticing similarities in the story and characters of Star Wars and our own family dynamics.

We have bravely shared these connections on the podcast and found a positive response from our listeners who are in similar situations. We enjoy being real and we believe that makes our podcast comfortable to listen to (if that makes sense). We know that nobody is perfect and we try not to judge because who are we anyway….lol…just a couple of middle-aged moms talking about Star Wars. For the most part, we try to keep the show light-hearted and fun. Recording the podcast is mostly for our own enjoyment. We never think anybody is listening and are surprised when people say they do. It is our every two-week escape into what we both love because nobody else in our lives wants to talk about it…lol. (Teen eye roll) (Husband – “Again with the Star Wars”)

Tell me about your first episode (or first few episodes) and how your podcast has changed since those first few episodes.

Becca: Ha! It’s been fun, but a learning and humbling experience too. We’ve had to learn how to cut our time down and realize, we’re not here to contend with the “Big Dawgs” of Podcasting. As moms, our time is limited and that has ultimately shaped the show into what it is today. So, I guess you could say, we’ve learned a whole new meaning to the word “patience.” Patience and pacing, yep, that’s how we roll.

Devon: We always tried to keep to our initial concept. We tried to overthink things in the beginning. Spending way to much time researching our topic and scripting our conversation. We were stepping out of our comfort zone. Becca has always been much better at off the top of her head conversation on any Star Wars topic. I’ve had to learn how to do that.

We now do very little pre-show preparation except to pick a topic and decide to talk about it. We do create an outline to prompt our conversation and to also keep our time in check. We could talk for hours if we didn’t.  Since I do the audio editing I have found that trying to keep the show under an hour is much less time consuming for me. Becca and I have become a great team. We play off of each other while recording and have a great time. We laugh at our own stupid stuff all the time and we are surprised that some of our listeners find us funny as well. We are humbled by that every time. 

We have added segments to the podcast over the years to keep things interesting and unique. We really enjoy the “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words” segment. We have to hold back on it because we could talk for an hour about one screenshot from 40 plus years of ovies. I can’t remember when we added the skits. It’s a fun and unique thing we enjoy doing. However, it is a time-consuming process to edit. We discussed how we, in our headcanon, are actually at Maz’s castle and working in the Cantina. A cantina type of bar noise can be heard in the background of every podcast.  We like to think we are sitting down in a back booth having a drink and talking Star Wars on our break. So the skits grew out of that. 

Soon we will start a special sequence of shows that leads up to The Rise Of Skywalker. Something we have done for the release of each movie since we started podcasting. I love these since Becca writes up this awesome topic related monologue that we record with background music and present at the beginning of the podcast.

Do you have favorite parts or least favorite parts about producing a podcast?

Becca: Truth? Yes. It’s not all fun-and-games. Although, we do try our best to keep the fun a top priority. So, fun is the favorite part and the least favorite is timing and time consumption. Planning when to record, content setup (notes and topics), organization and editing all need time. And, as moms, you can imagine how limited spare time is.

Devon: I think Becca summed it up perfectly. We wish we had more time. We do joke about how we podcast with bubble gum and duct tape. We don’t have all the bells and whistles that some of the big dawgs have. And yet we seem to be able to produce a show that gets good reviews for audio quality. I just attribute that to the Force. I am one with the Force and the Force is with me. I enjoy the editing process. I’ve been involved with video editing for a few years before doing a podcast so the audio editing came naturally to me. It fascinates me and is very satisfying to take pieces of something stitch it together electronically and come out with a merged, melded product that entertains. It’s magic.

For new listeners can you recommend 2 or 3 episodes that would give people an idea of what the podcast is like?

Becca: This is a hard one, but I think our episodes that happen to be a collage of Star Wars content are our best. Those mashup shows allow us to really be us and just be fans, not “Big Thinkers.” See, when you can go sit down with your best friend and just gab and gush over your favorite TV show, film, band, or whatever it is you share, well, that’s what these episodes are.

Episode #32: Solo: A Star Wars Story “Extra” Reaction Show

Episode #7: Star Wars Sunsets: Transition and Reflection

Episode #58: Kanata’s Castle Stealing a Freighter and Heading to Batuu!

Devon: I can’t believe Becca left out the show with the bit about Kylo Ren’s pants

Episode #45: A Star Wars Giving

Kanata’s Castle #39: Kenobi Visits the Castle: An Interview with James Arnold Taylor!

In this episode JAT actually agrees to help us with a skit.  It’s one of my favorite ones.

What podcast episode have you received the most positive feedback about? I’m curious if you knew that one would be a winner or it surprised you that this episode was a hit with listeners.

Becca: Honestly, we never know how well received our shows are going to be and to be honest, it’s not something we aim for. We go in hoping to have fun and hope that fun is felt throughout the duration of that episode. Again, we’re here to talk Star Wars, have fun, and hopefully help someone smile along the way. So, whenever we get feedback we’re always pleasantly surprised by how positive it is. Seriously, we’ve been blessed by the positivity from others.

I am always surprised by the positive feedback we get from the episodes where we share uncomfortable but real information about ourselves and our lives. I like that we are real.

How do you decide what the subject of your podcasts is going to be? Do you know what you’ll be talking about months out ahead or do you decide more in the moment?

Becca: Depends on the moment, mostly. Typically, it depends on what’s trending in the latest Star Wars News or if one of us feels strongly on a certain idea then we go with it. Now, if we are planning on a guest, then yes, that’s set up in advance.

Devon: We try to keep the show a conversation between two Moms talking Star Wars. But yes, like Becca said we do prepare for guests. But even those shows end up in some surprising impromptu conversations with our guest. We love it when that happens. Like so many Star Wars podcasts today we talk about current news, but rather than list off ALL the news we just pick the stuff WE want to talk about. So if listeners are looking for a comprehensive Star Wars News show it’s not going to be Kanata’s Castle. We have a hard time remembering the last 40 years of Star Wars and now adding more on top of it had made for some pretty amusing conversations as Becca and I try to keep our brains from leaking.

Who are a few people you’d love to have on your show as a guest in the future?

Becca: Dream Guests? George Lucas, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher (if she were still with us). But, hopefully we’ll be able to sit down with Ashley Eckstein, Cat Taber, and Suzie McGrath.

Devon: Mark Hamill – but I’d pudding and couldn’t talk. Launch Guy, from Rogue One, Christopher Patrick Nolan, Ben Daniels who played General Merrick in Rogue One, Dave Feloni, Cavan Scott, Gary Witta, Ron Howard, Rian Johnson….I have to stop lol.

What kind of equipment do you use for recording Kanata’s Castle? Any overall tips for new podcasters?

Becca: Well, I use a Yeti microphone, audio technica headphones, audacity programming for recording, and my laptop. If I’m on location, I use a Trustin Digital Voice recorded. As far as recommendations go, well, we’re still learning. One thing I can say for sure, the more credits you have the better your equipment.

Devon: Duct tape and chewing gum….lol.  Seriously, I’m using a very cheap audio-technical ATR2100 USB microphone. I recently added a mic boom and foam cover over the mic which had greatly improved my audio. I use Audacity to record and edit. Everything is done on my slow old ASUS laptop. I do keep moving all my show files to an external drive often. I’ve heard so many horror stories of podcasters who lost everything to a hard drive crash.

What are some of your favorite Star Wars focused podcasts?

Becca: To be honest, I don’t really listen to other podcasts for fear I might rehash or plagiarize, unintentionally, someone else’s ideas. That said, before my podcasting days, I listened to The Cantina Cast, Coffee With Kenobi, Fangirls Going Rogue, and Idiot’s Array to fuel my Star Wars fix.

Devon: My feelings are the same as Becca. Since I started podcasting I don’t listen to many podcasts anymore. In the past, I enjoyed Brews and Blasters and The Star Wars Report. I still listen to My Star Wars Story when a new interview comes out. I occasionally listen to Idiot’s Array and Skywalking Through Neverland. I also used to listen to Fangirls Going Rogue. And, as I am an avid reader of Star Wars literature I always listen to Becca and Mark on Tarkin’s Top Shelf after I’ve finished a book they have reviewed.

Tell me about your experience at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. Had you been to a Celebration before? Will you be in Anaheim next year? Going for the Podcast Stage? How about other upcoming conventions?

Becca: I have been to five Star Wars Celebrations and Star Wars Celebration Anaheim will be my sixth Celebration! Star Wars Celebration Chicago was definitely a great experience, minus the snowy weather. The fandom has grown since the Sequels and the protocol for Celebration has had to evolve in order to cope with evergrowing/changing fandom. Personally, I prefer the lottery system and the crowd is electric!

As for the Podcast Stage, yes, I hope to submit both shows, Kanata’s Castle and Tarkin’s Top Shelf for a spot. Upcoming conventions? Well, that’s not always as easy. See, for me, it’s geography (I live in WNY) and getting the time off from work (a busy Retina Surgeon’s office) isn’t something I can do often and most times than not, I’m at the mercy of when the Doctor takes his vacation.

Devon: Celebration Chicago was my third Celebration. I’ve been lucky to attend three. The planets really have to be aligned for me to get away from home and family responsibilities for that long and that far away. Not to mention the financial challenges. Chicago was a blast, there were so many more fans than the previous two celebrations and I imagine it’s only going to get bigger.

My daughter got to attend with me and we both enjoy doing some cosplay during the convention. I am a member of the Rebel Legion as a Formal Jocasta Nu and I really enjoy becoming the Jedi Librarian and interacting with other attendees.  Becca mentioned the lottery system and because of that we got to attend a big panel for the first time ever, and it was TROS trailer panel. That was an EPIC day. 

We had some fun and exciting random encounters with fellow fans and celebrities. But the best part of Celebration was attending with my podcast partner Becca. Becca and I talk to each other every two weeks, but we hadn’t seen each other in two years. It’s never going to sink in that my name is forever associated with Star Wars Celebration because it’s in the program for being on the Podcast Stage with Becca. Star Wars Celebration is my happy place it’s my “Chewie We’re Home” moment every day I enter the convention center. As for Celebration 2020 – only the Ancients know if I will be attending Anaheim.

What are you the most excited to see or read in the Star Wars universe coming up in the next year?

Becca: The Rise of Skywalker and any of the stories leading up to that. Also, the conclusion to The Clone Wars.

Devon: I can’t wait for all the books and comics coming out that are leading up to The Rise of Skywalker. I really enjoy having my appetite wetted for the movie. Yes, I am excited for the final episode of the Skywalker saga, and I am also sad for it. I can’t imagine right now how I am going to feel after I’ve seen it. It will be bittersweet.

I look forward to The Mandalorian TV series and The Clone Wars Saved episodes. All the Star Wars content coming to the Disney streaming service. It’s going to be nice to find it all in one place. There is so much Star Wars content out in our galaxy now. There is something for everyone! I think it’s fantastic.

How can people who want to listen to your podcast find it and help support it?

Becca: Subscribe, Subscribe, Subscribe! Seriously, that’s the best way to support us. Kanata’s Castle Podcast is practically everywhere: iTunes, Google Play, Libsyn, Stitcher, etc.

We do have a tip jar on the bar.

Find us on Twitter @CastleKanata and on RetroZap.com Podcast Network.

You can read all of the 365 Star Wars content related to podcasts including more Podcast Spotlights here.

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