Michael Bise admittedly didn’t know much about the Gap or selling clothes.
“So, to be hired by Gap was not something I would have thought would happen,” he said.
But shortly after graduating from Texas A&M University in 1992, he got a job at the store in Highland Park Village, and one thing stuck with him – the music.
A curated soundtrack of music played as customers browsed, perhaps meant to serve as background noise, but it stuck with Bise, who’d been a DJ while in college.
“You could hear pop – the next song would be a dance song or alternative or hip hop, and the next one acid jazz (or) classic R&B,” he said. “(The Gap playlists) opened my horizons to more different kinds of things which made it very enjoyable.”
That first job in Highland Park Village led to a career with Gap that spanned 15 years. He went on to work at stores in NorthPark Center, the Galleria, and the Preston Oaks shopping center at Preston Road and Royal Lane, Bise said.
He’s since talked to hundreds of former Gap employees who share his love of the music.
“So, it’s really affected not just me, but thousands of people across the world had the same experience that this is something that really enhanced your work experience, but it also tied in specifically with Gap.”
Gap had hired AEI Music to curate the playlists used in its stores.
At the end of each month, Bise was allowed to take ones posted in the break rooms at the stores where he worked.
Bise said the music reflected what was going on in the world outside the store.
“In the early ‘90s, there was an explosion of different sounds … hip hop … alternative, plus revivals of disco and new wave, so there was a big wide range there,” he said. “But you would see things change.”
For example, after Sept. 11, 2001, he said, the December playlists “were very low key, very calm, whereas usually, holiday at Gap was very loud, sleigh bells ringing, everything, and these were very somber.”
Bise has created a blog soliciting Gap playlists and tapes/CDs from his time there – 1992 to 2006 – and posted the playlists he’d compiled.
Bise enjoys hearing from others.
“They’re re-experiencing things from their younger days when they were working at Gap,” he said. “Hopefully, maybe I’m doing a little service, helping people find some of their old friends, musical friends, that they loved from when they worked at Gap.”