Monika Ouellet fills her days in unexpected ways. During the working day, she is a funeral director and embalmer at a funeral home in Saint John. A job she describes as “fun” but when she’s not on time, she goes by a whole other name: Lazermortis.
Ouellet set up his own music studio in the basement of his house in Quispamsis. She creates synthwave music inspired by the 80s/90s. And she is as passionate about her musical art as she is about the mortuary arts.
“They don’t normally meet in real life,” Ouellet says, “but that’s kind of my shtick.”
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She describes caring for the deceased with the same delicacy and finesse as selecting an instrument for a song she is working on.
“We really watch them because they’re someone’s loved one,” she says. “I would treat my grandmother that way. I would treat my grandfather that way. I wouldn’t want someone, you know, to treat my loved one badly. So I would never hurt someone else’s loved one.
Ouellet says the two passions were born around the same time. Reading her mother’s pathology textbooks and joining her father in his passion for music as she grew up in Sussex. She was actually on an entirely different path before making death her day job.
“When I was 20, I had just come back from baking and I was like… I really don’t want to be a baker,” laughs Ouellet. “I even said to my teacher, ‘Just let me finish the year. I don’t want to do this for a living. I want to go back and be a funeral director. “
She interned at a nearby funeral home to make sure the path was right for her before heading to Nova Scotia Community College to get her funeral director and embalmer licenses. She hasn’t looked back since.
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“It’s fun, we do everything,” said Ouellet.
“We do everything from meeting a family, doing paperwork, calling places, clergy, all those things to arranging a service for someone. And then at the same time, you could be called back and have to do the embalming.
She says once you get over the shock of caring for a deceased person, it becomes a position of care.
Musically, Ouellet released his first electronic music album in 2020, Backseat Demons. She assembled and mastered 10 tracks entirely by herself on an album that she assembled and marketed herself. He has amassed over 88,000 streams on Spotify alone.
Ouellet says this album — and his music as a whole — is more influenced by his funeral home work than one might expect.
“I think the themes of death and dying and thoughts of the afterlife naturally find their way into my music because my daily work takes up so much of my life that my brain is kind of automatically wired to go that way. ,” she says.
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His latest project, a five-song EP released in August 2021, tells how artificial intelligence could perceive death. This project, funded by a grant from Music New Brunswick and mastered by another local musician, Nick Fowler. Entitled Autonetic Afterlife, it was nominated for an East Coast Music Award for electronic recording of the year.
“I’m like, blown away,” Ouellet says. “It’s a big deal for me.”
The ECMAs will be in Fredericton this year, about an hour’s drive from Ouellet’s house. She’ll find out if she wins on Sunday, but even one nomination exceeded anything she expected.
Lazermortis performs in Fredericton the night before with fellow countryman Den Mother. After the weekend of excitement for her alter ego, she will return to work at the funeral home on Monday morning.
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