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Sauna music in the time of corona

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With social saunas on the back burner, we are all taking lots of solo saunas. And for many, sauna music in the time of corona is our friend on the sauna bench, or before and after our sauna sessions.

We’d love to hear what you are listening to these days. Here are a few contributions of from fellow sauna enthusiasts:

Denise Fauntleroy

In the Silence by Asgeir (Icelandic artist)

Mika Meskanen

Peter Sieve

Peter framed against is cool down room inside his hand built backyard sauna

I’m pretty new to sauna. But I’m finding that when it comes to music on the bench, I’ve been leaning into instrumental stuff — particularly contemporary classical, experimental, and super weird arty jazz stuff. The wide dynamic range of these musical styles pairs well with the meditative, calming nature of sauna for me — more space between the notes to hear the clicking of the stove, the lick of the flames, the creak of the bench.

I’m a musician myself, a guitar player, in bands that hew closely to more typical pop-oriented songwriting in the vein of Wilco, Jason Isbell, Fleet Foxes, and other artists you might hear on radio stations like 89.3 The Current here in Minnesota (my main band is called Rogue Valley — our music would actually be great for sauna, I think, but I digress).

Over the last five years or so, some of my more sophisticated music pals hipped me to a whole different world of music: adventurous, undefinable stuff that explores music for its own sake, without any intention of being an easily consumable product, that is challenging and requires your attention while it works on your assumptions and expectations. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the Bang On A Can marathon in New York a couple of times, which features artists in this world, as well as the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN. At both of these events, I found myself transfixed, discovering new sounds and ideas that required me to re-think what music is and can be in our lives.

Peter’s sauna music in the time of corona therapy

So it is, then, that I find the sauna the perfect place to cure these artists up — there are no other distractions, and I can fall into the music while I sweat and think and meditate on how weird it is that any of us are even alive, and why we enjoy sitting alone, naked, in a sweltering little room, sweating and smiling.

First up is this incredible album by composer Caroline Shaw for the Attaca Quartet. Truly beautiful stuff.

Then I’ve got this gem from bassist Larry Grenadier. One man and his upright bass, and it’s captivating as hell.

This one is from the legendary guitarist Marc Ribot. Perfect vibes for a cold beer while you’re pulling those coals forward and lounging on the top bench.

Wim Hof

Wim Hof drinking out of a glass made entirely out of ice, after cold plunge.
  • Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon
  • Gypsy Kings, Allegra3
  • Tahir Buhan, Daffodil
  • Enham Hof, Lentegas

Mike’s sauna music in the time of corona

For me, it’s My Morning Jacket. I don’t program a whole album, but instead selected tracks. Many come from their album It Still Moves. Mahgeetah, Golden, I’m Amazed, Wordless Chorus, Gideon, and Off the Record are some favorites. And when I’m in a higher energy mood, songs like One Big Holiday and Aluminum Park. Two things I especially like: 1) the way many of their songs build in tempo from slow to fast while I’m heating up from cold to hot – it just seems to be a nice fit; and 2) the huge reverb on the vocals makes my Sauna feel bigger when I close my eyes, like more of a cathedral or music hall. 🙂

Kimmo Helistö

Kimmo Helistö and Glenn Sauna Talk at Uusi Sauna

Well… Sauna and music, what can i say?

Personally for me sauna is silent, maybe only some easy talking, and only the sounds of sauna itself. But i have arranged a lots of happenings where the heart of the happening has been the sauna and outside of it there has been all kinds of dj:s and bands and all kinds of music.

Also one of my favourite sauna in Helsinki, Kulttuurisauna (Cultural Sauna) has wonderful but very silent ambient sound in their lounge room, and that ambient music is made by Tuomas Toivonen who runs Kulttuurisauna. Actually it is his synthesizer looping the sound Tuomas has been programming.

I also remember one moment from Lowlands Festival in Netherlands, where I have had my festival sauna many times. There inside the sauna were two guys taking their easy time, when other one suddenly said to another: “Soon at the main stage will perform The Pixies, should we rush there?”, but another guy simply answered: “Fuck, this sauna is better than The Pixies!”

So – if I should listen some music in my sauna, I would choose some Brian Eno ambient sound, maybe the album “Music For Films”.

The best greetings from Sauna Arla and Uusi Sauna, Helsinki.

Drew K

  • “Morning Sun” Melody Gardot
  • “North Dakota” Lyle Lovett
  • “Wolves” Ryan Bingham

Tucker Gerrick

  • Bill Fay’s “Time of The Last Persecution”
  • Ted Lucas’ Self Titled album
  • Bon Iver’s Self Titled album
  • Any and all of Sharon Van Etten’s discography

And, as we consider our sauna music set up, we look into why a sauna changing room wants to have a subwoofer.

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7 thoughts on “Sauna music in the time of corona”

  1. I have Spotify & I choose relaxing music like: Native American flute music, Meditate to the sounds of nature, Binaural beats, and New age music. My home sauna was my Christmas present, and I adore it!

  2. Hi Martina

    What is the best way to use essential oils in the sauna? I was thinking of buying one of those stone cups that you put water and oil into and then place between the sauna rocks. Is there a better method?

  3. This post is awesome – thanks to all. The Brian Eno pro tip is solid gold, thanks Kimmo.

    These are solid as well:

    Bela Fleck & The Flecktones
    Garcia / Grisman / Rice – The Pizza Tapes
    Fela Anikulapo Kuti

  4. Are you putting audio speakers in the sauna? If so, what type? Do speakers survive the high temperatures and humidity?

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