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NMSU graduate creates unique opportunity for local artists

Film director and creator of Valley Sessions, Ryan Robson, watches a live performance of musical artist CW Ayon. (Photo by Sai Tafoya)

The founder and creative director of the nonprofit live music project, Vally Sessions, is NMSU alumnus Ryan Robson. Aiming to promote local artists and musicians, Valley Sessions allows audiences to watch live musical sessions shot in unique locations around Las Cruces.

Robson is a native El Pasoan, regularly participating in freelance photography and filmmaking as he shoots and produces all music performances shown on the Valley Sessions website. He received his film degree from NMSU in 2018 and initially started to shoot music sessions last year when he was contacted by the city of Las Cruces to record 11 live performances for the New Mexico Juneteenth Jazz Arts Festival. Through this event, Robson was able to form relationships with local musicians and sound operators, eventually leading to the creation of Valley Sessions.  

According to Robson, the purpose of this project was to showcase the reality of Las Cruces. “Las Cruces has this really fascinating kind of existence that happens within small towns,” Robson said. “It’s in a perpetuating state of death and rebirth.”  

When it comes to the process of shooting live sessions, Robson said he wants to offer other filmmakers, photographers and musicians the chance to promote their creations. 

“When I was in film school, I heard our volunteer members and current students express how they have a hard time finding fulfilling work outside of the university,” Robson said. “A year ago, there were four of us, and now there are over 20 volunteers.”  

NMSU student Leslie Gonzales helps shoot a live performance of musical artist CW Ayon for Valley Sessions. (Photo by Sai Tafoya)

Valley Sessions has grown tremendously since the start of the project last year, but the team behind the scenes must still receive the legal permits required for shooting in public spaces. For the artist Anibal, Valley Sessions had to receive the city’s permission to shoot in an abandoned swimming pool in Apodaca Park. 

As of now, there are 11 published live sessions on the Valley Sessions website, while the final session of the year will be released on Nov. 2.  

“You know I set out a year ago to shoot 12 of these, and we did,” Robson said. “We’re done, and now we’re scheduling our second season.”  

With the future of Valley Sessions in mind, Robson hopes to find someone who can fund their next season, he said. “My hope is that we will be showcasing the city and these local musicians, spaces and businesses in a way that makes people involved in the city very proud of it.” 

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