‘Part of Melbourne’s kind of dying’: South Yarra’s Sing Sing studios closes its doors

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‘Part of Melbourne’s kind of dying’: South Yarra’s Sing Sing studios closes its doors

Sing Sing
words by kaya martin

The longstanding Chapel St music space has been sold to developers.

After nearly 60 years of functioning as a music recording space, 643 Chapel St, the home of Sing Sing Recording Studios, has announced it is clearing out the gear for good.

The building, which had been leased out as a studio for most of its existence, is set to be torn down and replaced with a 25-storey “diamond-like” office tower.

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The space had a uniquely rich and storied cultural history. Passed through many hands throughout the years, the location served as the birthplace for some of the most iconic and beloved Australian albums.

It’s just like a really incredible space. It sounded amazing, super usable. There’s something pretty special about it,” says Aaron Dobos, producer and engineer who has been at Sing Sing for around 14 years. At the moment, you walk in there and there’s gold records, all these records on the wall and that’s pretty cool.”

The first floor of 643 Chapel was first established as a music space by the Broadcast Exchange of Australia in 1967. Using early soundproofing methods, they lined the floors with fibreglass to prevent the rumble from nearby trams.

After being renamed as Mediasound, it was then sold to Yarrabank studios before spending most the ’80s as the famous Platinum studios.


As Platinum, it secured its spot on Australia’s music map, testing out cutting-edge technology and techniques and recording industry greats such as Crowded House, Goanna, Paul Kelly, Frente!, Hunters & Collectors and Kylie Minogue. It was also the space where the legendary female recording engineer Karen Hewitt got her start.

After a brief stint as Kiss studios, the space was finally taken over by owner and operator Kaj Dahlstrom and transformed into what would become the second location of Sing Sing Studios.

I did my first-ever band recording there. I recorded all sorts of bands there. I did the first two Ceres records there, a couple of British India albums. The Avalanches did a bunch of Wildflower there,” says Aaron.

Sing Sing has an impressive legacy of its own and has recorded a star-studded lineup including Lady Gaga, Kanye West, Midnight Oil, Temper Trap, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, INXS, Power Finger, Missy Higgins and Elvis Costello.

Dahlstrom opened the original Sing Sing location in 1975, a multi-room facility in an old margarine factory in Cremorne. However, in 2017, the original studio met the same sad fate and was forced to close after being sold to developers.

It’s just a bit sad,” says Dobos. “There’s this golden age of Melbourne music, the ’80s, when all of these incredible bands were coming out and it’s like losing that attachment to the past in a sense. It’s strange, there was all this stuff about the Curtin shutting down and then the Tote being sold and then no one really cares about recording studios.”

As one of the last remaining development blocks along the South Yarra section of Chapel St, the location was highly sought-after and the building was sold after the previous owner passed away. The current plan for the lot is a $75 million new build that will hold 22 levels of office space and 3 floors of parking.

Although the city must say goodbye to the legendary music space that was 643 Chapel, it’s not entirely the end for Sing Sing. The business has loose plans for a new beginning in Northcote.

“I think part of Melbourne’s kind of dying,” says Dobos. “Who hasn’t recorded in that building, really?” 

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