You’ve seen him at every notable event on the island . . . Cedric Herbaut is the man behind the lens at events photo outfit Bali Tonight – and possibly the hardest working man on the island. Portrait by Daria Almazova at Bali Barber.
Hi Cedric. Can you tell us a bit about where you’re from and how you grew up?
I was born in 1970 in Cambrai in the North of France were I spent my first 20 years. I was immersed in electronic music at that time and I spent most weekends in clubs in Belgium. I’d just started my training as . . . um . . . okay, a hairdresser. Yes, h-a-i-r-d-r-e-s-s-e-r, I guess not many of you know this. Then I traveled in Spain for a year and ended up in Paris where, in 1993, I organized techno, drum & bass and underground music events. I spent 12 years doing that and during the same time I opened a hairdressing salon in Paris. Then in 2004 I was so touched by what happened in the tsunami that I decided to build an orphanage for 40 children in Sri Lanka, and we raised money by holding events. We did that for five years until the end of the war when the government got rid of all NGOs and associations. I sold my salon in 2010 and travelled, learning photography from my best of best friends Paul Kozlowski, a Parisian architecture photographer. My first project was at GDF Suez, the biggest electricity company in France, and then I worked for them as corporate photographer.
When did you first arrive in Bali?
February 2012. GDF Suez sent me to Indonesia and Thailand to do industrial and aerial photography of two huge central power stations; then I went to Bali for a month-long holiday after that.
What were your first impressions?
Fantastic. Beautiful. Charming. I fell in love with the island vibe. From mountain to the beach, river to the sea, rice fields to the mall, traditional to modern, all in one island.
When did you have the idea to start Bali Tonight?
Five days before my scheduled return to France. I’d had a great time and I didn’t want to go back to France. One day I went to a beach party at La Plancha with a friend, Fred Bonnet (I thank him!), and it was his idea to shoot nightlife scenes on the Island. I got back home, created my Facebook account and started Bali Tonight. Then I tore up my ticket. A week later, I saw there was a great DJ at Mint, so I contacted the management there and they gave me my first chance. The first year was very hard but I loved my job and didn’t give up. I got several venues as clients and I did private parties too until the opening of Townhouse. Mark Baker contacted me to work on Halloween night, 2013, and on that night I made contact with many important people here and Bali Tonight was officially launched. I’m very grateful for this, and to the people who gave me the break.
We imagine you’ve had a few late nights. . . How often are you out each week?
About four to five nights a week and almost never home before 4am.
You’ve recently become a father too. . . That must be tough on your sleep patterns!
Yes, but it means I have two cheerleaders now so I’m fine with this. She didn’t change anything in my routine. My wife and I just need to be a good team so we can spare the energy and time for our little girl, for our “me-time” and for our job.
What’s the best part of your job?
I party every day! Ha! Man, every day is a good day for party and I love the music. Meeting new people is a bonus. So I’m working and having fun in the same time.
What’s the worst part?
Editing! I have to keep my ass in my office for more than 12 hours on weekdays. You know, when people say TGIF, I’m like, okay, it’s the weekend and I have to work! Which means I have no holiday. Luckily my wife Jehan assists me 24/7, 365 days a year. With her law and marketing background, she manages all Bali Tonight business and works as a consultant too. Without her, I would never have time to sleep.
Do you ever get complaints from people when you take their photograph?
Of course! Capturing nightlife scenes means I have to deal with drunken people. Several times I’ve had beer thrown on my camera because some people just don’t want me to take their photograph. Or because they’ve been caught cheating. Or they think they’ll look ugly. Every day I get messages from people asking me to delete their picture.
Which club has the hottest scene at the moment?
Many but let me be honest, I love Jenja, their music never fails; Woobar Bali, which has the best sunset session and for beach parties, Karma Kandara.
What’s the best party of this year so far?
This year? Hernan Cattaneo at Jenja, James Zabiela recently at Double-Six Rooftop, and oooh . . . Pete Tong at Woobar Bali, it was rad!
Which event do you always look forward to?
Jenja Anniversary Party, SPF at Woobar and of course The Yak Awards!
Cedric, many thanks for your time. See you on the red carpet!