Learning to Go 120 Miles Wide and 2 Inches Deep as a California Expat

Back from California’s beaches Martin Brem reflects on expat life

He works for one of the most global businesses in one of the most global industries. Yet, when Martin Brem made a professional move from Central Europe to Southern California for the music business, his Red Bull wings didn’t fully prepare him for the cultural change he was about to experience as an expat in the United States.

Now back in his native country of Austria, Martin reflects on the five years he spent as a California Expat in the greater Los Angeles area – where he was confronted with a culture he describes as challenging. “Growing up in post-World-War-2 Austria you have this idea of the United States as ‘God’s Own Country,’ the home of Elvis and Dylan and Woodstock, the land of freedom. Then you go there and see the obscene wealth and the even more obscene poverty. That was rather shocking at first.”

California Expat Martin Brem Los Angeles Hollywood Hills

Martin quickly came to realize what people mean when they describe the L.A. area as “120 miles wide and two inches deep.” Often Europeans who were raised in societies with long standing traditions of classical education at first miss a certain intellectual depth when they come to the U.S. West Coast. It wasn’t much different for Martin who initially perceived Californians as a bit superficial: “Making a real connection was quite hard.”

It took perseverance and time to recognize the true human potential in his new environment (remember this blog or the one about peaches and coconuts?). The key skill for success across cultures, Martin realized, is listening. And a willingness to adjust – without losing yourself in the process. After all his plan was to be a California Expat, not to become a local.

From European singing contests to record company executive

After a career in the media, marketing, and music industries, Martin is currently Head of Music Portfolio at Red Bull Media House, a multi-platform content outlet which produces TV, mobile, digital, audio, and print products. It is part of the soft drink empire with the scarlet colored bovine creatures in its logo. Martin now lives in Salzburg – the Austrian city which was home for many notable individuals, like Wolfgang A. Mozart, Stephan Zweig, Thomas Bernhard, Herbert von Karajan, or Theodor Herzl.

Before becoming the man behind the music, Martin Brem was front and center stage. He represented his home country at the Eurovision Song Contest as part of the group Blue Danube in 1980 and as a solo artist in 1981. He also contributed songs to the soundtrack for the 1986 musical comedy “Müllers Büro” – an Austrian cult classic. In his career as a musician Martin was a member of several bands in the 1980s, including Sauerkraut, Spastic Elastic, and Mordbuben AG.

Martin Brem mountains

You can connect with Martin Brem via his LinkedIn profile, he may or may not accept you as a “friend” on Facebook. He even has a Wikipedia page! Red Bull Media House has a presence on LinkedIn as well. If you prefer the other socials: the former California Expat is also active on Instagram.

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The music on this episode is provided courtesy of… you guessed it: Red Bull Sound Supply
“Summer Love” – Artist: Jonathan Andreas Tan
“Bring Back Deep” – Artist: Thabo Rasenyalo

Jungian Wisdom – listen to the episode and you’ll understand

Carl Gustav Jung

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