Melbourne’s Iconic Sing Sing Studios To Shut: 'Unique & Vibrant Music History Is Disappearing'

8 August 2023 | 3:26 pm | Mary Varvaris

"It’s hard to believe that these places, that were the absolute beating heart of Melbourne and Australia’s vital music industry, are now just relegated to fading memories."

Sing Sing Recording Studio

Sing Sing Recording Studio (Source: Sing Sing website)

643 Chapel Street, the home of Melbourne’s iconic Sing Sing Recording Studios, is closing after a storied almost 60-year existence.

As previously reported by The Urban Developer, Sing Sing will be demolished and replaced by a 25-storey apartment tower. The publication notes that Pomeroy Pacific and Quattro Corp plan to build a “diamond-like” building in “sleek crystalline tower form”.

While the building will be tragically knocked down to make room for more apartments, it’s not the end for Sing Sing.

Sing Sing told The Music they were “busily packing up things at the Studio in line with [their] plans to vacate Chapel Street at the end of August”.

“Beyond that, there is nothing to say at present due to the fact that the deal we are negotiating is not yet finalised,” they said.

It’s expected that owners will reveal what the future hold for the studio soon.

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This isn’t the first time Sing Sing has faced pressure like this. In 2017, the initial location in Cremorne, originally constructed in 1975, was closed down and sold to developers.

Since the Broadcast Exchange Of Australia’s 643 Chapel Street location was established as a recording studio in 1967, two levels of the building that eventually became Sing Sing showcased early, innovative methods of soundproofing and a layer of fibreglass to help prevent the noise of trams rolling past.

Sing Sing will become the subject of a $75 million build with 22 floors of office space and a multi-storey car park.

Sing Sing has hosted everybody in its South Yarra location, from international icons Blondie, KISS, Cat Power, Lady Gaga, Mariah Carey, The Prodigy and many more.

It was also part of a golden age of Australian music – the 1980s – providing a space for the likes of Midnight Oil, INXS, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Hunters & Collectors, Jimmy Barnes and stacks more. Its cultural significance can’t be understated for Australian artists.

The Music has contacted numerous important figures in the music industry who have opened up about the devastating loss of another cultural landmark in Melbourne, many of whom were generous with their time and candour. You can read all the responses below.

Stuart “Ruddy” Rudd (The Superjesus)

“It’s a shame that such an iconic Australian studio is being closed down and redeveloped. Studios like Sing Sing helped produce a plethora of quality music and bands that created the very fabric of what we still listen to today, in Australian music.”

The Paper Kites

“Sing Sing is a landmark of Australian Music. Just walking through the place makes you feel part of something bigger than just your project or session. It’s devastating to hear about the closure and building redevelopment.”

Dan Sultan

“There's been a lot of very beautiful things happen in those walls, and, I feel fortunate and grateful that I was able to experience it.

“I feel like you can step into a room and feel so much history, which obviously won't be there if they relocate it. Well, it'll be there. I mean, I remember it, you remember it, there’s a lotta people who remember it; that feeling is within the individual, or within the self, and no one's ever gonna be able to build an office block on that.

“What that place represents to me, as far as being a special place is concerned, I mean, that's untouchable. No one has access to that, you know, the land obviously remembers and feels things, and that will always be there, too. Obviously, it's a shame, but at the end of the day what makes it special, to me, I mean, it's something that can't be sold and can't be bought so I think that's a nice way to look at it. You can carry it in your heart.”

Magic Dirt

“We loved working at Sing Sing, it had such a great vibe. We spent many hours there working on three of our hugest records. It was a real honour and a real feather in our cap to have worked at Sing Sing. It’s an Australian music institution that will be sorely missed. And we hope that the people who live in those apartments will forever hear our wailing supersonic feedback in their recurring nightmares. We love you Sing Sing!!”

Tom Larkin (Shihad/Record Producer for Bodyjar, Alien Weaponry and more)

“Sing Sing Studios - alongside Kaj [Dahlstrom, Managing Director] and Jude [Coleman, Administration Manager], have played a pivotal role in Shihad’s recording history and my own ventures as a producer and engineer.

“Whilst it’s heartbreaking that we lose a world-class recording facility, nothing will replace the community that surrounded Sing Sing and Kaj and Jude’s warmth, support and professionalism.

“Thank you for everything you gave, Long live Sing Sing.”

Shane Howard (Goanna)

“I first worked at Melbourne’s Sing Sing Studios in 1986-1987, recording my first solo album, Back To The Track, post-Goanna. Back then it was a fledgling 16-track studio run by two musicians, Phil Butson and Kaj Dahlstrom.

“It rapidly expanded to become two of the great studios of Australia and just about anyone who was anyone recorded there; Midnight Oil, INXS, Kylie Minogue, Kiss, John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Nick Cave, Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett, Elvis Costello, The Killers, Black Eyed Peas, Delta Goodrem, Blondie, Gurrumul, Powderfinger, Lady Gaga, Archie Roach and the list just goes on and on.

“I kept returning to work at Sing Sing too, over three decades, for numerous projects because it was simply the best studio with the best vibe and the best gear. From small developmental studios to major band or orchestral studios, mixing rooms and mastering rooms, Sing Sing was the one-stop shop for music production.

“Sing Sing 1 was sold off for residential development some years ago but Sing Sing 2, in Chapel Street continued on, until now. Before it was Sing Sing 2, it was Yarrabank Studios and then Platinum Studios. Some of the recording for Goanna’s Solid Rock was done there when it was Yarrabank and Let The Franklin Flow was mixed there as well.

“A lot of Melbourne’s unique and vibrant music history is disappearing with these studios and these buildings. It’s hard to believe that these places, that were the absolute beating heart of Melbourne and Australia’s vital music industry, are now just relegated to fading memories.”