Podcast Spotlight: The Imperial Senate Podcast

It’s time for another Podcast Spotlight interview! Say hello to Charlie, Nicky, and Clare from The Imperial Senate Podcast.

What was your introduction to Star Wars?

Charlie: I know it seems far fetched – but pretty much as soon as I was born, Star Wars was thrust upon me. My Mum & Dad put the original trilogy on the TV for me as a baby & in fact, my first word was ’dun dun’ – my way of humming the Imperial March (which meant, put Star Wars on!). Then it was all about the figures & by the time I was 3 – the Prequels began. What a time!

Nicky: I was just shy of 3 years old and sitting in the child seat of the shopping cart at a Wal-Mart in Paris, Texas. My mom would often buy VHS tapes for various movies and send them to my grandparents, but not this time. This one was for us. And so began my Star Wars journey as we got home and watched Return of the Jedi. I still have the image forever burned into my memory of C-3PO and R2 walking up to Jabba’s Palace. And from that moment until now, I’ve been in the game. I think the first movie I can remember seeing in a theater was when A New Hope Special Edition came out and I remember running around the house using a kitchen clip as a blaster and a homemade lightsaber made out of a poster tube, blue Wal-Mart plastic bags, and aluminum foil. Yeah, not much has changed, to be honest.

Clare: I was first introduced to Star Wars through the action figures when I was very young. My older brothers had a whole bunch of them and I thought they were cooler than my dolls and Barbies and all the stereotypical “little girl” toys I had always been gifted with. I played with their action figures all the time, I would even bring them in the tub. One day when I was probably 4 or 5 years old my dad asked me something along the lines of, “have we ever shown you those movies?” Which of course, it dumbfounded me that there were actual movies with these characters in it. My Dad and I had a Star Wars OT marathon weekend, and I never looked back.

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

Charlie: I’ve always been enamoured by Darth Vader. As a kid, I adored his look and how much of a terrific villain he was. But then I got to see Anakin’s backstory and had even more of a connection with the character. When ROTS was released, I found out I had a rare benign tumour called an Orthodontic Myxofibroma – and in a way, Anakin’s transformation gave me some comfort and really helped me through a difficult time. I also adore the Space-Twins, even more so recently as I’ve grown up and seen their story evolve in the sequels.

Nicky: Growing up with the Originals, Luke Skywalker was of course a big deal for my early years, but Anakin Skywalker, being the age he is in The Phantom Menace was so important for me. I was close to the same age, I think a little younger, to Jake Lloyd’s Anakin when TPM came out and experiencing a Star Wars adventure through a character who saw the world at my level created an instant connection. Anakin remained my guy throughout the Prequels, even though we knew the tragedy that was coming. As I continued my development through Star Wars, I’ve loved the sort of thrill-seekers and pilots…Han Solo, Poe Dameron, and Sebulba as the standouts there. And even though the list can literally carry on forever, I’ll special-mention Leia, Lando, Chewbacca, R2, Rey, Kylo Ren, and the entire Ghost crew from Rebels.

Clare: I mean there is the obvious favorite for me, everyone’s favorite character, Salacious B. Crumb: the single greatest comedic genius of the Star Wars universe. But of course, that goes without saying. Princess Leia has been my hero since I was a little girl, and I always wanted to be like her. In my “tween” years, I was feeling isolated in my fandom without knowing anyone who still was a big Star Wars fan. Then, The Clone Wars animated series started airing on TV, and suddenly I felt connected to Star Wars again. That’s when Ahsoka became one of my all-time favorite characters because I got to watch her grow up, as I was growing through my awkward adolescence. We grew up together.

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?

Charlie: I was an avid podcast fan for years – having listened to The Ricky Gervais Show and others. I dabbled with the format through my teenage years, but it wasn’t until 2015 when I realised there were Star Wars shows. Through that, I met Nicky and we just clicked – the same sensibilities, humour, etc. We met in person at SWC 2016 and recorded an episode after the second Rogue One trailer was released. Then we were joined by the incredible Kristen Bates (no longer with the show, but is always a senator to us – we love her so!) and Clare – who just clicked with us all from the beginning. Ironically, I think it wasn’t until 2018 that we truly became the show we are. I have appeared on other shows & always love helping out friends.

Nicky: I hosted a show on our university radio station with some friends and we covered a wide spectrum of sci-fi/fantasy properties that we liked, so I had speaking/presenting experience through that. After beginning to listen to more podcasts, not limited to Star Wars, the decision to start our show in the summer of 2016 with Charlie was an easy one. On a personal level, it felt like a nice continuation of something I had left behind after graduating.

Clare: I wanted to start a Star Wars podcast of my own from the very first time I heard one, probably around 2011. For years I wanted to become involved but did not know how to begin, and I didn’t become actively involved in the online Star Wars fandom until maybe 2014. Through Facebook groups I met Nicky, Charlie, and Kristen and we became friends after Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, and eventually they asked me to join them on the show, first as a guest, later as a permanent co-host. I didn’t really make any appearances on Star Wars podcasts until after I joined ISP.

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

Charlie: I think while other Star Wars Podcasts do a brilliant job at discussing the news, breaking down the minutiae of the creative process etc. – we instead want to deliver an earnest, fun experience. Like Star Wars, we don’t take ourselves too seriously? – we’re adult-orientated, but we also deeply care about people and these stories. That, or ”we talk about Count Dooku’s dinky”.

Nicky: I always like shows where it feels like you’ve just sat down at a conversation between friends. Of course, there’s always room for more professionally structured or like data-driven analyses of things, but I think we’re most successful at our ability to discuss what’s meaningful with a vibe that flows like any casual conversation would. That allows for variety, topics can ebb and flow from serious into downright silly and childish and I think we have such a natural ease with each other, there is not really a need to hold anything back. I wouldn’t say other podcasts don’t have that, but I think there’s something incredibly honest about how we put ourselves out there on our show.

Clare: It’s Moist. Moist as can be. Nah, when it comes to our podcast (to quote Taika), “It doesn’t take itself a hundred percent seriously, but it does believe in itself.” We’re just three friends that love to joke around and discuss these silly space wizard movies, but with a lot of goofiness and heart.

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

Charlie: Ha, oh it’s definitely an experience listening back. I sound terrified and unsure of what we wanted from the show – so much that we didn’t have a show name in Episode 1! But since, we’ve embraced our mistakes and weirdness for the better. Which I think is reflected in our diverse, hilarious and incredible fanbase.

Nicky: I think we started out comparing ourselves to the shows we listened to and maybe trying to emulate those styles more. There could have been a degree of holding ourselves back because we thought we had to fit a certain mold to be taken seriously as a podcast. We changed when we really accepted that all we had to do was be our most authentic selves. We didn’t have to pretend or prove anything. Just embrace who we are which could be analytical or straight up dumb. Once we empowered ourselves to truly accept that’s all we had to do, I think our episodes got a little more bounce to them and I’m pretty sure we started to form more dedicated listeners. There are a lot of places people can go to get their Star Wars podcast fix, so it became a really nice affirmation that listeners were tagging along for the ride because they liked hearing from us in our most authentic voices.

Clare: From when I joined, things have changed quite a bit, both with the show and with myself. Listening back to my first episodes I cannot believe how serious and TIMID I sounded. I can really hear the difference in the episodes because we now have a lot more fun with recording and let our eccentric personalities shine. Because that’s why any of us get into podcasting in the first place, for love of the Wars and for fun.

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

Charlie: It depends! – we have sub shows for specific topics (for example, our Mandalorian review show 3 Blurrgs & a Bounty) – but mainly for the core show, we look at the news – what the community has talked/shouted about & whatever pops in our weird heads.

Nicky: The main thing is Star Wars current events, for sure. Whether that’s discussing announcements, trailers, show episodes once they air, movies when they release, or current fandom trends, all that certainly drives the conversation, but we do love a good tangent.

Clare: We usually use any announcements or breaking news as a starting point, from there who knows where the conversation might go? Odds are good it will go back to who the sexiest Separatist is. We also have some seriously ridiculous and fun listener questions sent in from time to time, and that makes for some of the most silly and hilarious tangents.

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

Charlie: My favourite part of podcasting is the fact I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people. Friends, who I truly consider to be part of my family. The least favourite part has to be the fact there are so many difficulties with doing a show with so many time zones. I live in the UK, Clare’s in Chicago & Nicky’s in LA – combine that with crazy work schedules and it’s a nightmare. Worth it though!

Nicky: My favorite part is all the people involved with this podcast existing. Of course, getting to chat with my co-hosts, but also all the people I’ve met simply from being a part of the podcasting realm and having listeners. There are so many great fans out there and having a platform to share my views has helped me meet them. My least favorite part is definitely all the complications that come with scheduling. I don’t know how many other shows span 8 hours worth of time zones and irregular work schedules, but we make it happen! It’s definitely a challenging aspect.

Clare: My least favorite part is how many ideas I have and how much I want to actually do with the show, but that my work schedule limits my amount of free time to do it. I wish there were more hours in the day. My favorite part is just that I get to talk to two of my best friends weekly about one of my favorite subjects on the planet. It really is one of the major highlights of my week.

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

Charlie: We recorded a really in-depth TROS episode which lasted 3+ hours. I thought that nobody would listen that long, but it’s actually one of the episodes we’ve received personal positive praise for – which I’m proud of. We also did 2 Christmas Specials in 2018 which are a highlight. One was a commentary of the Holiday Special & another was an entirely semi-improvised performance. So much fun!

Nicky: I’m really happy with our first review episode of The Rise of Skywalker, but since Charlie mentioned that one, I would highlight three episodes we did to discuss The Siege of Mandalore arc that wrapped up The Clone Wars. The guests we had to discuss “The Phantom Apprentice”, “Shattered”, and “Victory and Death” and the avenues of conversation and analysis were, in my opinion, truly some of our best.

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

Charlie: ^ same as above

Nicky: I wasn’t surprised by the feedback from our TROS analysis episodes, especially since we got them out at a time when people were really desperate to discuss the film in-depth and with varying perspectives. I guess I was more surprised at the amount of people that responded to them! It definitely felt like a big moment for the show.

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

Charlie: Taika Waititi, Ash Crossan, Lauren Lapkus & Nicole Byer, and Hayden Christensen.

Nicky: Dave Filoni, Kiri Hart, Daisy Ridley, Freddie Prinze Jr., Tiya Sircar, Rian Johnson, Phil Szostak, and David Collins

Clare: Rian Johnson, Daisy Ridley, Taika Waititi, Gina Carano, or Mark Dodson (we love you Crumby!!)!

What kind of equipment do you use for recording? Any overall tips for new podcasters?

Charlie: I use a Blue Snowball Mic – with an extended stand from a cheap Amazon Podcasting arm. My computer is extremely outdated and old – but it does the job! We use Zencastr to record – and we have our amazing editor Ben who does the magic! My tip would be to be yourself. I know that sounds generic, but I think so many people put on a facade or think they have to be like someone else. People want to hear you FOR you. Also – don’t worry if you haven’t got it all figured out yet – it’s part of the journey.

Nicky: I use a Steelseries gaming headset and Zencastr on my laptop. My advice for new podcasters is to trust your instincts. Trust your instincts to be yourself on your podcast. Trust your instincts to surround yourself with co-hosts and guests who you are able to be comfortable around. Even if you mess up, as long as you believe in yourself, your goals, and those who support you, you’re gonna be just fine.

Clare: I use a Samson microphone with a scissor arm mic stand attached to my desk and a pop filter. Then we use Zencastr to record our audio as a group. My advice is BE CONFIDENT. You, your perspective, and your life experience are one of a kind. Enjoy yourself and let your personality shine through. There are thousands of Star Wars podcasts out there, your uniqueness is what will keep people listening!

What are some of your favorite Star Wars focused podcasts?

Charlie: Oooh – so many that it’s hard to list them all! Ahch-To Radio, Blast Points, Rogue Podron, Star Wars Spelt Out, Kessel Run Radio, Star Wars 101, Sapphic Skywalkers and Lousy Beautiful Town.

Nicky: Sio Bibble’s Babble Bubble, Ahch-To Radio, Kessel Run Radio, Force Toast, Trench Run Report, and ForceCenter.

Clare: The Bad Motivators, Ahch To Radio, Rogue Podron, Kessel Run Radio, Force Toast, Star Wars Spelt Out, Blast Points, Sistas with Sabers, and Brews and Blasters!

Tell me about your previous Celebration experiences? Highlights? Lowlights?

Charlie: Ooh, definitely meeting friends in person for the first time! – being able to thank creators in person for the effort they put in (shout out to the Star Wars Show team!). But in Celebration Chicago, on the last night – we got a little tipsy with friends and recorded our first ever live podcast in person. At that point, I looked around at all the amazing people surrounding me & absorbed how lucky I am.

Nicky: I don’t even know where to start with this question! Celebration is the most special place in the world to me, wherever it is. I’ve made incredible memories with friends over five Celebrations and I’ve gotten to meet other fans and creators who endlessly inspire me. The only “lowlights” I can think of are being INCREDIBLY TIRED at Orlando 2017. Those were some extremely late nights and early mornings! I have an inexhaustible list of “highlights”…the ones that make me happiest are being in the room for the “Chewie, We’re Home” TFA trailer in 2015 and having an out of body experience, all the Star Wars Rebels panels, having the opportunity to meet Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Rian Johnson, Dave Filoni, Tiya Sircar, Sam Witwer, and Hayden Christensen, and relaxing with friends at the end of the long days.

Clare: I had a rough experience at Star Wars Celebration Orlando 2017 because of the company I was in, but it was my first Celebration and it definitely made me catch Con-Fever. Chicago was a whole new world. I had joined the podcast at that point, so I had been making more friends in the community and felt like I had a friend around every corner. One of the highlights was watching the Episode IX trailer with Charlie and sobbing like a baby.

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

Charlie: Personally, I can’t wait to dive into the George Mann Mythic books! – that & the new Lego Star Wars game.

Nicky: As far as what’s coming in the next year, I’m most excited for the Squadrons video game, the High Republic content, and The Bad Batch animated show!

Clare: I’m a huge Grand Admiral Thrawn fan, so the new Thrawn Trilogy is easily my most highly-anticipated literature coming up in the next year. And if all goes according to plan and continues on-schedule, the Cassian Andor Disney+ series is my most anticipated thing to see.

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

Clare: You can find us on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and pretty much wherever podcasts can be found. You can catch us on video on both Twitch and YouTube. Join our PS4 Community Group and our Discord. PLEASE consider becoming a patron on our Patreon page (help us, we’re poor). And our website (with blog posts, and access to all of the above) is www.imperialsenatepodcast.com!

Charlie: Clare said it best!

Nicky: What Clare said!

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