It’s not every day that you end up discussing the health benefits of growing your own microgreens on a rainy Wednesday afternoon. Or maybe it is for Kam. Raised in a Rasta household to Jamaican parents, Kam-BU grew up vegetarian and has subsequently always been pretty into the health and wellness of his own body and that of his surroundings. His favourite YouTube channel Growing Your Greens got him in on the microgreens hype and he hasn’t looked back since. But his green thumb doesn’t even stop there, before throwing himself into music as his full-time career path, Kam also had an eye on a future in sustainable agriculture. Up to present day he still volunteers with Green Gym, an organisation helping to increase biodiversity whilst engaging local communities and arming them with the tools and skills to nurture London’s green spaces. He explains, “basically, every Thursday we’d go out to a local park in London and then we help out, trying to restore the green areas: litter picking, planting trees, sow meadows... “, the list goes on. “And then once we get it to a place where the community are coming regularly and they can run it by themselves, we give them the equipment, we’ll move on to another park and they get to do their own thing.”

Kam’s own music is just as nourishing, tactile and conscious as his extracurriculars. On his forthcoming EP, he touches on everything from Grenfell (‘The files should have been frozen from the start, imagine we’d bun down all their yards, will God see me and still see love?’) to growing up young, black and male in London – “that paradox of trying to go one way and your friends all doing something else, and then how you still feel just as oppressed as them anyway” – to just infectious, vibe tracks to turn up and dance to. Music is definitely a vehicle for change in his eyes, but in order for it to be truly authentic, he makes sure he uses it to touch on a multitude of moods and messages: “I think that comes from growing up in a household where you’re listening to artists like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh etc. You learn that there’s a way to make righteous music and make it sound good and fun and powerful at the same time.” To him, Kendrick Lamar and Erykah Badu are two great masters of this – artists with something to say who don’t sound like they’re preaching – and Kam’s mission in his own art is to do the same.

And that’s where his name comes in: pronounced as a twist on his own name Kamron and the affirmative encouragement ‘can be you’. “I feel like everyone has their own ‘-ism’”, he reckons casually, with ‘-ism’ here serves as a placeholder for a person or artist’s personal philosophy or doctrine. “What I want people to take away from my music is that, that you ‘can be you’. Because that is my only message really, I’m not here to impose myself on you but this is life according to me.”

And despite his disarmingly calm and softly-spoken demeanour in conversation, life according to Kam-BU is fiery, energetic and inquisitive. “For the longest time growing up it was always like why am I here? I’ve always had that question. I think a lot of people do as well: why are we here?” His music doesn’t profess to have the answer but it’s his attempt to show the working. On Leon-Vynehall produced single ‘Are You On?’, his staccato perspective is accented with dizzying, synthesised chords as he pendulums between interrogation and self-assured answers. The chaos is mirrored visually as he performs confidently to camera, obscured by grayscale flickers and glitches. ‘Black on Black’ sees him examining his own heritage with pride and urgency as he asserts ‘Black on black, that’s fam. Windrush, that’s Grandad’s clan’ amidst family portraits, wallpaper living rooms and youngers. There’s a refusal to sit within the confines of genre in the instrumentation used throughout, that mirrors his own eclecticism as a music fan: “I remember getting Demon Dayz [by Gorillaz] in Woolworths when I was like 7 years old, and then my dad was always blasting Dr Dre. I knew a bit too much for my age” he laughs.

While his sound is decidedly individual, he’s far from a lone wolf in this industry. Instead, embedded within a community of his friends, peers and collaborators including Louis Culture and Lord Apex who fostered friendships in the Soundcloud days as a subset of alternative rapheads, “but back when the algorithm used to be good and plug you with people who were close to you, into similar music” he clarifies. Over the subsequent months and years, they got to know each other’s faces, and then eventually put names to them; the rest is pretty much history. In fact, it was a release this year with Lord Apex that led to Kam’s biggest bout of early press attention, contact with his now-management team and the opportunity to quit his job and devote his time fully to music after working part-time in M&S before the pandemic alongside his volunteer work. “There was a silver lining [in 2020] and it’s been such a nice experience to dive into, I feel like I haven’t had that time since I was in like Year 9 to just focus on studio.”

Ten years on however, a lot has changed since 13-year-old Kam used to jump in the booth at the youth centre in South-West London. Kam has grown and morphed, grafted and honed his craft and arrived at a place where he’s ready to share his voice with the world. As his own biggest critic both in and out of the studio, honesty and creativity are at the centre of everything he does: “I think being real doesn’t mean just calling out other people’s bullshit. Being real is also being real and honest with yourself. That’s how you start to develop into something much greater than what you expected to be. It comes from looking within… I wanna be able to say I’ve done this, toured the world, seen that, pushed some boundaries. I don’t ever want to be comfortable.”