Syreeta and Randall Interview (LEGO® Masters)
True North Bricks caught up with Syreeta and Randall for an interview following their time on LEGO® Masters, season two. We chatted with them for nearly half an hour along with fellow fan media Brothers Brick, Brickset, and BZPower. Find out their advice on being a LEGO® Master, style, and what they learned from the experience, among other things. As always, you can find full season two coverage by clicking here.
Until next time,
Why did you decide to apply for LEGO® Masters?
Syreeta: We were thinking about it last year, but this year provided new opportunities. When those opportunities arose, I called Randall and was like, “Alright man, it’s time.” So, we just made it happen, and we’re really grateful that we made it.
Randall: I was the one that got her into it! We actually had goals that we wrote down of getting further into this community. I think some of my experience as an AFOL has very much been insular and just working by myself, and so this provided an opportunity to share in the process of getting on the show with Syreeta.
What are your art and design inspirations for your builds?
Syreeta: Definitely, music! In thinking about what’s missing in the LEGO® repertoire, and how we can contribute to it, just random stuff that Randall and I happen to be talking about. Things like rap lyrics and what’s in the space.
Randall: Syreeta is a hip hop archivist in her day job, so that inspires the things that we do outside of this competition. Finding ways to insert that in the builds that we created, and have fun with it, was a good challenge on top of having to build for scale. How do you craft these stories in a way that can be read at a scale of that size, and still get across the message?
What details were in your builds that weren’t caught on camera?
Randall: In the hero shot build, we were coming up with names for the characters and I couldn’t think of anything. Syreeta was like, “let’s just pick Andre for the wizard.” What they didn’t capture in that one was we also name the centaur Camille, and the dust that we had was purple. All of that stuff adds up to represent the Prince world. So, you see where I was going – that was a deep, deep edit, and all of it didn’t make it to the show, but I thought we’d have some fun with it.
Syreeta: The cute bees that we had in the back of the hat was like a triple entendre: Beyonce, Lil’ Kim, Then some other folks.
Randall: And she’s from Queens, Queensbridge. That was the third entendre.
You, like several teams, have a signature look. How much of each team’s look is their own, and how much is made up for you by stylists?
Syreeta: Randall and I like our look because this is how we look in the world every day. Hair is important to me. Just trying to figure out what that looked like during competition was rough. I was struggling but I used the look I have on right now. We were grateful when we met the stylist team that we got okayed for I think pretty much all of our looks. This is just representative of how we choose to show up in the world. I’ve done business meetings with millionaires in this look, and I’ve been to LEGO® Masters with these looks. I’m going to keep going with it.
Randall: Basically, everything’s from the back of our closet. Like, Syreeta said, her hair was amazing. I’m looking forward to the future when I see something like Syreeta’s hair on a minifig.
How did you decide to divide the labor in the challenges?
Randall: You might have seen, there was a pre-boot Randall and there was a post-boot Randall. And it was a post-boot version that literally had to sit down and have Syreeta in the driver’s seat. By that point, we had decided to split the labor up. She finished the top and I finished the bottom. I think what got away from us in that particular challenge was the scale of it all. Spheres are challenging to build by themselves, but then having two people build it can get away from you really fast, given the time constraints. I had to give it up to let her do what she thought was best and the same went for me. Then we literally met in the middle, as you saw, at the seam in the balloon.
Were there any particular moments in the show that didn’t get captured on camera that you want to talk about?
Syreeta: I’m trying to remember what episode it was – it might have been the Hero Shot. I was just getting really frustrated by the end of it. I was definitely frustrated on camera, which you can see, but I think it was that episode that really led to us cementing our team. We were communicating on a level three, and after the Hero Shot we were like, ‘let’s just get everything out the way, let’s just be really clear, really intentional with each other.’ So, behind the scenes I was swallowing what I had to actually say, because I had to ensure that my partner was still represented in the highest light possible. That’s something that didn’t go on screen. One thing I am grateful for, even from that moment, is Randall came back and he said, ‘I’m not going to have you looking crazy on TV,’ and I was like, ‘Randall, we will go to the ends of the earth together, my brother.’
Randall: Ditto for me too. Just making sure that we were swallowing words at that moment. And when I came back and took the wall down, that was immediately after we decided to move forward and do what we had to. That build specifically was more representative of our lack of communication.
In terms of other teams that we connected with, I would definitely say Maria and Phillip. We built next to them in the Hero Shot and they had the cabaret girl. I was watching them build as I was building, quite honestly. It started to look really good, and it was one of the best builds that I thought was there for that challenge. Tim and Zach were our buddies and they built on the other side of us, and in that challenge specifically we had some banter back and forth between us.
Your build for the earthquake challenge was great. How did that build come together for you?
Syreeta: My introduction into LEGO® was actually to the architectural sets. My dad was an architect. So, with this challenge, I was like “Listen. Let me tell you what we’d have to do.” But I kind of didn’t have to tell him because I knew he has the skill set. I knew he was ready, and I knew it was a great opportune time for us to show ourselves and our skills in this light. I told him, “As long as you want to ensure that it does not fall, the story is on me.” Randall did exactly what I had expected him to do, and I think together we really got that to shine with that.
Randall: That Make and Shake challenge was my favorite one. I think the way I can sum it up is when you see me in the episode with my arms out. The reason why my arms are out like that, that was my body’s natural reaction to just say “Finally!”. Something worked out. Up to that point, I thought the parade build was okay, and I was not a fan of the Hero Shot. To have that build specifically marry our shared love of architecture and hip hop, have a story that played into the shaking, and have it go to level 10, I was like “Alright!” I thought we were going to continue to build upon that, and I was I was excited for that.
Out of the challenges that you participated in, which of your builds was the most personal to you?
Syreeta: Definitely the parade for me. It was something that I was already familiar with. When we got the centaur in the Hero Shot, I was like, “What is happening? This is way too much!” Parades, I’m familiar with. Especially having grown up in New York City. But actually, it was a reminder of why I said yes to the competition to work with Randall in this new way. It was a reminder of the things that I love, and also seeing the things that I love in a new way. We had three million bricks to participate with. I don’t personally have the plethora that we were given. It was just really great to see different types of bricks, different types of other pieces that I can participate with that add up. Like the concrete brick wall that we had on the side of the floor. That’s exactly like New York City to do little things like that. That is the reason why the parade was so personal to me.
Randall: I’d say Make and Shake, because not only was that architecture and hip hop, it was math. Just music in general, how we tied it to records. I’m a crate digger, I love finding vinyl of multiple genres. That challenge really set me free in a way. I knew how to direct at that point, especially coming off the Hero Shot challenge when we were struggling to communicate. Once it got to the point where we started meeting each other in the build, we improved. I think that’s the reason why the Make and Shake challenge was probably my favorite. I was able to put most of myself in it.
Each challenge takes your creative attention in a completely different direction. How was that process for you as an artist, to constantly be shooting for a moving target?
Syreeta: For me, I think with the work that I’ve been doing, it’s significantly easy. On one day we’re working on one project, a failed project because I thought we might want to do a podcast today, or a book the next day, etc., etc. So, I was not attached to what the end result will look like in any particular way. I was thinking: “We have eight hours. We need to deliver something in eight hours.” I was more connected to that versus thinking of all the little details that could have been in there. I was focused on what is the bare minimum that we need to have. Just to be able to present something. As long as we can present, we have moved on in some capacity.
Randall: You might have seen in the episode, it’s funny how they cut it, where Natalie said, “We just tried to get to the finish line.” Then Jamie’s like: “We are too far into the competition to be just crossing the finish line.” Then it cut to me looking at Syreeta. We struggled with that because she’s very task oriented, sometimes at the expense of the entire composition. That type of prioritization happened a lot.
Speaking to the moving target question, that was task oriented. All right we got to build it to blow up. So, starting there and then moving to the opposite of that, which is building strong. To subvert the way you were building prior to that, that didn’t throw me off that much. I’m used to working in different projects and context switching outside of this competition. You’re just dipping into different pockets of your knowledge. All of these things are complementary. They’re not opposed to each other. Even in the Hero Shot, you’re building certain spots to be strong to contrast with the places that you want to blow up. So, it didn’t throw me off. In the hanging brick challenge, I used the same technique that I did in the Make and Shake challenge to connect the hanging bridge all the way down to the basket. So, these things are additive over time. That’s the way I looked at it, and that’s why it didn’t throw me off.
Syreeta: I think details are important and necessary. That’s why I’m grateful that Randall was brilliant at what he is brilliant at, and I’m great at what I do. You know, there needs to be a project manager on the team! At the end of the day, we can speak about the details until we’re blue in the face, literally. But when that clock strikes, when Will is like, “Hey, you’ve got five minutes left!” The reality is you need to have something to show, and it has to be good. It’s really just figuring out what that balance looks like.
If you could go back to your pre-LEGO® Masters selves, what advice would you give yourself for the show?
Syreeta: Pre-LEGO® Masters, I stayed in my lane. There were things that I was definitely interested in, but I was not as integrated with the LEGO® catalog as I became after LEGO® Masters. I would say just play and do more free builds, my own creations, prior to the competition.
Randall: I think I would have done more competitions. Like a convention build or any of the online build challenges. Just being able to think about changing context for different things and have different inputs and stimuli, to be able to build with some prompts.
What next for you and your LEGO® builds?
Syreeta: When I think about what has been possible, not just with the show but the work that we’ve been doing since, what’s most incredible is the space to do both my own and inspired builds. What we’ve been doing is smaller things; coasters, trains, and such. But they were significantly different from my scope of work in regard to what was possible. I’m really excited to really test all the skills and implement a lot of what I’ve learned. My level of Technic skills prior to the show was significantly lower than what they are now. Even thinking about those things, thinking about the math, I’m thinking we could have done the hot air balloon significantly different if I had known about that from the beginning. So, I’m really excited to implement the things that I’ve learned, the things that I have been learning since we’ve been home, etc. l’m in all types of builds.
Randall: This was a bootcamp of sorts. For me, but definitely for Syreeta as well. I did learn some things as well. There’s a way that I build that is different than the profile of success on the show. So, learning how to sculpt. I think one of the things that was important that I learned on this show was the storytelling. I was telling a few LEGO® Masters this past weekend that I’ve never displayed at a convention before. I’ve never competed in Iron Builder, or any MOC Olympics from way back. Putting myself in positions like that, to compete, get better with speed, and have a better sense of what people crowd around and appreciate, that’s something that I think I want to improve on.
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