What does old-school even mean anymore, especially in a town like Santa Fe where a hefty cross-section of our artists are, like, old? Shit, so many of us have been at this for so long that it’s often hard to even differentiate what makes a classic or not. Not with SaggaLiffik, however—this dude is the very definition of old-school.
A lifetime Santa Fean, SaggaLiffik (real name Santiago Gallegos) has been at it since the days of records in crates and honest-to-god turntables. "I started with vinyl and hip-hop in the mid-'90s," Gallegos says. "I was really inspired by DJ Trauma, who would play The Zone [later Swig, then Stats, among other things] when I was in high school. I … wasn't even of age yet and he took me into the booth around '94 or '95, and that changed me."
The inspiration first took the form of production, Gallegos says. This was way back when, when creating hip-hop beats was a painstaking process requiring serious hardware. "I had the record player on top of the dual cassette deck," he says, "and it was 'press play on the record, record on the tape deck; pause and start again;' I'd throw in some classic breaks from vinyl."
Beatmaking software like Logic came later, in the aughts. Though Gallegos uses that program now, he would also adopt the game-changing Roland TR-808 Rhythm Composer, a tool that he says "opened the floodgates."
Still, he misses those early creations and the tools behind them. "Since EDM has gotten so big, the analog sound has almost disappeared," Gallegos explains. "I think there's so much to that analog sound, and we lost some of the heart; it's synthetic now, like everything else—that's why it means so much more to me to keep the feeling behind it, to give it some substance that's genuine."
This means almost constant evolution, and though Gallegos started with hip-hop, he keeps up with the trends to move dance floors and collaborates with hip-hop org Outstanding Citizens Collective alongside rappers, DJs, artists and other creatives. "We've got a lot of projects," Gallegos says. "Like the [RaRa Room Radio] podcast."
For his live sets, however, Gallegos estimates he'll sink 10 to 20 hours into production, scouring his personal library for the best in hip-hop, Top 40, EDM and beyond or downloading new material to keep it fresh. It's an incredible level of dedication and effort even as, he says, audiences dwindle alongside the rise of technology. "I grew up in the '90s when you'd have 300 kids standing [at your show], and now we can barely get 30 people in the club and to pay a cover. I want the unity back," Gallegos laments. "I'm not in it for the money. I'm in it to do something huge for my city; we're a community, and if you're not doing it for the community, you're just doing it for the money."
As for what he might do to revitalize the scene, Gallegos simply says, "I haven't figured it out just yet, man—I just want people to be ready for a great time, because I crush it every time in there."
10 pm Wednesday June 28. Free.
Boxcar, 530 S Guadalupe St.,