Paul Steel has had an interesting musical career to date.

He wrote his debut album, April And I, when he was just 19.

He was then signed, and unceremoniously ditched, by a major record label and has now hit back with his third studio album, Carousel Kite. Jamie Walker spoke to him about a whirlwind few years.

How would you describe your musical style?

I guess it’s fairly irreverent and kaleidoscopic pop. Just really fairly dense pop music.

For this kind of record, I guess you’d describe it as a bit like Todd Rundgren who’s quite a genre hopper.

Having those big stream of consciousness ideas like he has done is what I’m thinking for this.

Then I also always get the Brian Wilson comparison, which at this point is so built into my DNA that I couldn’t avoid it even if I wanted to.

When did the process of writing this album begin?

I must have started it in early 2016.

I was doing lots of work as a pop writer for people at the time, so I’d spent any evenings or downtime putting these songs together.

It probably took six months to write and then another year to record, once I’d gone through all the different processes.

After releasing April And I you were signed by a major label and then dropped rather unceremoniously. Did that whole affect your music or writing in any way?

I’d only really been song writing for 18 months for that point, so I was probably on a trajectory to go somewhere else and they probably caught me mid-trajectory.

I suppose I didn’t quite know what I liked or what I wanted to do, I was just caught up in the process of doing it.

After that it was quite clear that I wasn’t fussed about being too much of a mainstream proposition.

I still love pop music and hooks and melodies, but there was something about the direction I was going that was slightly frustrating.

After it happened I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing as an artist, so I just went through loads of ideas and experimenting to figure out what I liked.

You mention trajectory; do you think you’d be in a different place now, musically, if all that hadn’t happened?

I think it was inevitable that I was going to get dropped, whatever happened, whether it had been then or later.

I probably wouldn’t have had the stomach to do the whole major label album cycle, where you have to trudge round for years.

I’m obsessed with the actual process and going through ideas without worrying about if someone is watching the coppers.

One of the first things I did when I got that deal was buy loads of studio gear for my spare bedroom.

I might have carried on if I could have been convinced and maybe got more of a taste for it, because there are always good aspects of that world, but I think musically I would have had to dial back some things I would have been excited about.

You also write songs for other musicians; how does that compare to writing songs for yourself?

It’s strange because for the last seven or eight years I’ve been doing co-writes with other artists.

Partly to make sure the artist gets a cut, but also so they can put in their vision.

It’s not always what you expect; sometimes you get someone who’s really capable and exciting and have loads of ideas, then sometimes you just get a singer who needs some songs.

It’s just different in the same way that all people are different.

It can be rewarding but you’re writing with other people’s ears in mind, so it’s perhaps not as satisfying but still fun.

A lot of people you’ve written with came in to help you with this album, are they people you’d known from before songwriting or is that how the relationship was established?

I’ve known The Xcerts for a long time, I used to live with a couple of them, and Tom ,the drummer, did the artwork for my record and we do a podcast together called The Idiot Check.

I want to say it’s mildly successful actually, it’s beyond the point where we could stop it without anybody noticing.

It was a case of getting good names, that I knew would be able to add something new and different to the music.

The press release says it’s a challenging album to listen to. Do you like that people have to think with your music?

I think so, I always get quite excited by that.

I think it’s so difficult to be original now, but I think you can always play on people expectations of what something is going to sound like, or what the next chord is going to be.

You can do a really simple chord sequence and then muck it up at the end and keep people on their toes, I’ve always really liked that way of doing things.

I was always frustrated that the album format wasn’t exploited for all it could be worth.

I always got excited by the ideas behind 60s albums and the way song writers saw the album as a whole and how certain bits of music could interact with each other.

I did it with April And I, which has plenty of variations, and I’ve done it with this record.

I’m still a pop head, it still has to be catchy and melodic, but I just like a different take on it.

What does the rest of 2018 hold for Paul Steel?

I don’t have a live show for this record, simply because I think it would be difficult to pull off without some sort of orchestral set up going.

There are some parts which would be difficult for a four-piece band, but I’m hoping to pull something together for it.

There’s also going to be new music being made.

So hopefully there will be a live show and some new music.

I took a confidence hit when I got dropped but now it’s like breaking the seal.

So why is this album to one for people to listen to?

Because it has healing properties, and I definitely think it’s our best chance of creating an inclusive and fruitful universe to live in.

It’s probably the most challenging pop record out from a Worthing-based pop artist in the last week.