A New Jersey boy initially inspired by Great Britain's take on the sound of Detroit, Morgan Geist eventually tracked the roots of techno back to Motor City innovators like Derrick May. Unlike many influenced by tracks like "Strings of Life" and "Nude Photo," Geist placed equal weight on the emotional power of Detroit techno as well as tight programming and combustive percussion. When he began listening to music, however, it was the sound of early-'80s synth pop heroes like Devo, Severed Heads, and Depeche Mode. The early British techno of 808 State and Black Dog were his point of entry into instrumental dance music, and he soon began collecting masses of synth gear while studying at Oberlin College. After he passed a demo tape on to Dan Curtin, the producer signed Geist up for singles on his Metamorphic Records. Geist later formed his own Environ label, releasing excellent statements of purpose which showed his affinity for the more emotional, midtempo strains of house music as well as the spartan ethic of Detroit techno. In 1997, he hooked up with London's neo-electro label Clear and released The Driving Memoirs. The following year saw the issue of Environ: Into a Separate Space, a collection of work for his own label.