Lydell Birch alias Moka Blast is the current CEO of FGC Studios. With over 15 years experience in the industry, he has broad experience in the entertainment sector, having worked with multiple production companies, music labels and talent agencies in North America, Europe and Africa. He is now opening his new Barbershop franchise and wants to develop his real estate portfolio in 2020.
You’ve been working in the entertainment industry for a decade now. As FGC Studios’ owner, what’s your daily hustle like?
It’s control anarchy! LOL. I usually wake up and look at my text messages on both phones before I even get out of bed. I smile as I have to answer over one hundred text messages every morning. Then I have to prioritize in order of urgency before calling my business partner DireXta. After we go over the books from the following night we break down the demands for the day and tackle it. I usually handle all finances while he handles the inner intricacies of running the daily operations. We don’t have a set schedule so we just go with the wind but we always make it work. It’s a very hectic work place environment but we have so much fun doing what we love that all we do is laugh throughout the 18 to 20-hour work day.
What are the services FGC Studios offer?
We offer a vibe that other studios can’t emulate. Besides being a boutique recording studio, we have established an atmosphere for indie artists to create in a way they will be uninhibited. When it comes to the technology we utilize the most high end gear to record, mix and master. I am more old school so I appreciate getting that warm sound to emulate the early sixties/seventies from the analog outboard equipment. On the film side we shoot and edit videos as well and story board with our clients. We often travel to other countries as it lends a different air from the regular scenery other artists utilize. We shoot with RED cameras but soon will be transitioning to the ARRIs.
As a videographer, what tools do you consider key to shooting?
The number one tool is the eye of the man behind the camera. I was lucky to run into my cinematographer, @Bullywitdabux, through his wife a decade ago. He has shot practically all my visuals and given me a look that is synonymous with the FGC flagship. One thing we had to do was invest in the right lenses and upgrade cameras as we leveled up within my music career. Now we own two RED cinema cameras, drones, and 4K cinema lenses as we try to extract every last ounce of resolution from these visual masterpieces.
This time around I will be the one giving these teenagers direction on what NOT to do as societal beliefs have changed.
What were your biggest challenges when starting this business in particular?
Dealing with haters. And unfortunately, that included people I have known for over 10 years. I had to sever so many relationships. Another challenge has been the financial aspect of building my first studio. By completion I paid ten times the initial expected cost. I am an indie artist so everything I was doing had to be put on hold to complete this project. It was very frustrating at times and felt like the longest six months ever but Direxta and I pushed through despite the grueling challenges.
Do you have any plans for the future of FGC studios? Like franchise development?
Professor Xavier is that you? We have already started building a new location in Greenpoint, Brooklyn where multi-platinum engineer Craig Mitchell (@Craigtheengineer) is the owner & operator. We have been doing business before I even started my music career and it only made sense for me to empower the man who have bent over backwards to see me succeed to this stage in the game. My boy “Semi” is as dope as they come not only as a producer but as a human being! Salute!
You decided to invest in real estate. Was the studio your first investment?
Yes, it was my first and now I am opening a barbershop and actively looking into other opportunities for the future. I really want to do it all as altruism is my sole belief. I will give back to those who try and can’t get over the hump.
Make sure you hire people to aid in your odyssey, never do it all by yourself. You will burn out really fast when you are alone...
When did you first decide that you wanted to invest in real estate, and what made you decide to do it?
When I knew that the Raiders football team was acquired by the city of Las Vegas. That to me was the green light I needed as I know that once the NFL moves into a city, they invest millions so it only made sense for me to go all in.
You are about to launch 2Hansum Barbershop. How did you get into this industry?
I was raised in a barbershop. My mentor @randomnach007 literally showed me how to cut hair as a teenager. While at the shop I would always say that if I ever had my own shop I will do it differently. To me the barbershop is where African American males get to open up and open up about the ups and downs in their personal life. It’s more like a therapy session for men and I learned so much by soaking up what the older generation would divulge. This time around I will be the one giving these teenagers direction on what NOT to do as societal beliefs have changed.
What is the “WOW FACTOR” you want for 2Hansum?
Televisions in the ground with a shower and a stage to perform. I am also developing an app as it will be a 24-hour barber shop on the weekends and on call any time of day during the week. Did I mention the four televisions in the wall with Xbox One X’s and a sneaker store in the back. I probably did. LOL.
As a serial entrepreneur, what advice do you have for small business owners?
Make sure you hire people to aid in your odyssey, never do it all by yourself. You will burn out really fast when you are alone and it takes so much time to recuperate and re-light that fire. You must make yourself the priority, as this game is unforgiving.
What’s your strategy on professional relationship building?
Always offer – never ask. I like letting different individuals know that I am here for them no matter what and always take the initiative to make the first move. This way they have that confidence in my abilities as a leader. At FGC we aim to please and want anyone who works with us on a professional level to feel at home.
I have done so many solids for different individuals that when I do need a favor it’s always met with eagerness and excitement as I never really need any one’s assistance. Also, always follow up as that shows that you really want that client or business relation to see that you genuinely care. It’s the way of the business world.
Follow @mokablast on Instagram
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