Claudio Passavanti is a British Italian pianist, music producer and digital entrepreneur, known as Sunlightsquare and Doctor Mix.
Born in Rome in 1972, Claudio started playing the keyboard at the age of 4 - preciously and passionately developing a deep interest in musical instruments, vinyl records, audio recorders, electronics and photography.
By the time he started studying classical piano (aged 9) he was already exploring computers and learning how to program them. The combined knowledge of music and electronics got him his first professional studio gig at
the age of 13 as a drum machine programmer for his piano teacher, who happened to be a film composer.
By the age of 16, he had moved on to study Jazz piano at the Scuola Popolare di Musica di Testaccio while still going to school. During this time, he started taking up small production jobs from his bedroom studio and playing live gigs at night as a keyboardist. Finished with his studies at age 18, he was hired as an in-house producer by the same studio he first worked in.
For the next 2 years he would produce the music of dozens of artists of the Italian scene, even playing live for some of them, and increasingly making a name for himself in the busy 90’s music industry.
Aged 20, and with an already strong musical preparation, he went on to study Orchestral Composing and Arranging at The Grove School Of Music in Los Angeles.
During this time, he would embrace and absorb the American traditions of music making, jazz harmony and show business. He became especially involved with west coast jazz and he began exploring the club scene, collaborating with local musicians including some of the top players in the L.A. area. Amongst them were legendary GRP rhythm section and John Patitucci and Dave Weckl of Chick Corea’s Elektric Band, who eventually joined Claudio to record his debut album “After Hours Ritual” for Sony Music’s sub label Rossodisera (Italy).
When Claudio got back to Italy in 1993, he was offered higher profile gigs than ever before and from that moment on he played keyboards, produced records or conducted orchestras for some of the top artists and events on the scene, namely: Zucchero, Lucio Dalla, Pino Daniele, Alex Britti, Niccolo’ Fabi, Ottavo Nano (in house band on RAI TV’s Saturday night show), Gabin, Brian Adams (Italian leg of the tour), Ambra Angiolini and Sanremo’s festival.
In 1997, he gained additional artistic recognition, teaming up with vocalist Barbara Eramo becoming the critically acclaimed duo ‘Eramo & Passavanti’; he received The Michael Nyman's Award For Best Performance in the 1998 edition of Festival Di Sanremo for the song "Senza Confini”.
Later in 1999, he arranged and produced the “Milonga” film score for Academy Award winning composer Luis Bacalov.
When Claudio moved to London at the age of 30, he found a new inspiration in the vibrant musical scene of the East End. He started out fresh as an in-house producer for techno label Almighty Records, until 2004 when he went solo and started his own company Sunlightsquare Records Ltd, named after a warehouse space in Bethnal Green, where he lived and produced his music.
In 2005 with the pseudonym ”Sunlightsquare” Claudio released the album “Urban Session”, featuring legendary drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Will Lee and vocalists Sharlene Hector (Basement Jaxx), Joy Malcolm (Moby) and Z-Star. Full Sunlightsquare discography
Sunlightsquare's salsa version of I Believe In Miracles (from the CD Havana Central) went on to sell over 10,000 copies and became a cult success in the Latin circles worldwide. The 2011 album Britannia Shing-A-Ling - a 25-piece band live studio recording - was described by the BBC as 'A triumph'.
In 2015 produced the main tile of the soundtrack on the feature film "Cuban Fury" (Studio-Canal/Film4) starring Rashida Jones and Nick Frost.
During this time, he carried on working as a freelance producer and conjured the idea of developing a platform that could handle his existing clients whilst also finding new ones. As a result, in 2006, he founded Doctor Mix - The Online Mixing, Mastering And Production Service - as one of the first online studios to appear on the internet.
In the early days of YouTube, he started experimenting with video, and registered a humorous musical channel called Culturekiller, and in August of the same year, he published “The Simpsons vs Star Trek”, a comedic mash up of the 2 songs performed on Rhodes Piano, Theremin and a funnel. The video became instantly viral and earned 2 million views, at a time when the most viewed Youtube video was “The Evolution Of Dance” with 5 million views.
Claudio experienced the power of modern day video for himself and decided to use it to increase the popularity of his Doctor Mix website. In the following years he was able to consolidate the company, move it to commercial premises in Central London and grow it into a 5 people operation.
With over a half-million YouTube subscribers for his Doctor Mix channel, Claudio is today considered to be an influencer – collaborating with some of the biggest manufacturers in professional audio including Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Rhodes, Moog and Arturia.
With 7 albums to date and countless singles and remixes as Sunlightsquare, Claudio is an established artist in dance music circles across the world and he performs at international festivals and clubs. His work has been published by several influential labels such as BBE, Yoruba Records, Brownswood Recordings, Dome Records, Studio Canal/Universal and EMI.
As a digital entrepreneur, Claudio has been able to harness the power of the internet, using it to create a successful business from scratch, setting himself as a case study for the creative industry and becoming an inspiring figure for
“I am the living proof that in the age of internet and video, artists can achieve their dreams for themselves. Without having to ask permission to anyone”.