Va-va-Mariah! As we go to press, the blogosphere is abuzz with Mariah's confirmation of her "secret" Bahamas wedding to the dreamy Nick Cannon — matching tattoos and all. Her latest smoking-hot album E=MC2 remains at the top of the charts, and she's never looked better (have you seen MC in a bikini lately?!) Yes, lambs, it's looking pretty fabulous to be Miss (Mrs.?) Mariah Carey these days. Our own Editor-at-Large Jasmine Dotiwala caught up with her best friend — our cover girl — before the latest media storm, to bring you inside the marvelous world of Mariah Carey. Read on...

Ocean Style (UK) July 2008. Text by Jasmine Dotiwala.

Tell us about E=MC2
This album, it's so much about fun and freedom and just the continuation of me feeling emancipated. It's sort of like emancipation equals Mariah Carey times two. This is me, 100 percent... having fun, just being real. People ask me all the time: "How do you stay relevant, how do you stay current, how do you make music that people continue to respond to?" You just keep being real, keep being you. Stay true to who you are from the beginning.

How was working on this project different from your last album?
It's really interesting because I didn't know what was going to happen with The Emancipation of Mimi. I was, of course, hoping for success, but the fact that it was such a massive worldwide phenomenon — I was so grateful and thankful to God for that gift and that blessing, that getting back in the studio was really, you know I really prayed to have something that I could be proud of and that I could be really inspired to go in there every day and sing or write a new song.

If Mimi was dinner, this is dessert?
Me and my friends have a joke about "treat it as dessert" — that's kind of it's own little thing that we say. It's a long story, it's an inside joke I can't really say but, yes, if Mimi was dinner, treat this as dessert. Meaning it's the best part coming up.

Did you try anything new this time around?
It's hard to be really specific about it because music is, it's in the air, it's divine inspiration but I think what I did is just try to express myself from my soul. I tried to express myself from, like, having a sense of humour ... and just really being myself. I think that's the most important thing that for a long time I wasn't able to do.When you can listen to your own music and put inside jokes in there, and put things that have been a part of my behind-the-scenes life in to a song... fans are getting a glimpse of me the person as well as the artist. So I think it's something very new for me.

Would you describe it as more Hip Hop or R&B?
It's so funny because ever since I did my first remix with ODB people have been saying "wow, you're doing this new hip-hop thing." And I'm like: it's not new, its what I've always loved, I'm just allowed to do it now.And a lot of people didn't know some of those hip-hop collaborations because they didn't listen to hip-hop radio or buy remixes — I just put the remix record out a few years ago, so some people never got to hear that 'till then. So now yes there's a lot of hip hop flavour but there are definitely very powerfully sung, emotionally rich ballads.Some of these records are so powerful in terms of where they're coming from lyrically, the way that I just sang them: one time and that was it.Reminiscent of some times a long time ago when I would sing a song one time and just leave it and that was it because the emotion was there. And I think that's what's different about this record to maybe the past few albums.

Where did you record the album?
I recorded in a lot of places... Let's say I'm working with a big producer, I'm working on a track, I'll go to where they are usually, where they are inspired, and then I'll take the track and go sing someplace like Capri or maybe Florida. I spent a lot of time in St. Martin, all different places this time on this record.

Why did you create the Emancipation of Mimi Live DVD?
I just wanted to share something different with the fans this time. I wanted to allow the cameras backstage; I wanted people to be able to see the dressing rooms and what that's like. I wanted everybody to be able to feel like they were with us on tour.Not just seeing the show but, you know, behind the scenes, feel like they're part of the show, feel like ... we're all like one big family. My fans are part of my family.

And the karaoke feature on the DVD?
It's been really amazing for me to watch how karaoke has become so popular around the world.... It's fun and ... its cute — its something fun to do.

Did you take a break after your last tour?
I actually did take a break and worked on an independent film called Tennessee (2008). I was very, very grateful to be offered that role of Krystal...The producer Lee Daniels [has] worked on so many incredible movies — obviously his biggest success being Monster's Ball, such a wonderful performance by Halle Berry which she won an Oscar for.I was just very fortunate to even meet Lee and to be able to work with him and everybody on Tennessee... guess I worked on that movie for a couple of months and after the movie I went straight into — it was really important for me to get right back in the studio.

I felt like I'd taken a break from being Mariah Carey, I'd taken a break from being on tour because, even though I was still working on a movie, it's not the same as being in the studio. I love creating songs, and working in the studio, and putting that music out there for my fans.

Tell us about your new fragrance, M by Mariah Carey.
I was so excited to work on a fragrance because I've never even worn a fragrance before. I've never liked perfume until I started talking to the people at Elizabeth Arden about working together on a fragrance. It's called M and its my favourite, favourite scent of all time.

How did you create a fragrance while working on new album?
I was very busy in the studio so it was really tough for me to take on a big project but ... we had a really great time and it was just something I wanted to share with my fans.

What was the inspiration behind the fragrance?
I guess it's inspired by a lot of different parts of my life: childhood, different vacations and places where I've been in my life. I don't know if they do this all over the world but in America we have different things like campfires and fun things like that when we're little kids and so it reminded me oftoasting marshmallows over the campfire — that's just a little fun thing that kids do at camp and so that was one memory.And then of course the beautiful fragrance of the Tiare flower, as well as the low note in the fragrance — the more sultry, sexy, sensual part of the fragrance which is like a Moroccan incense.So it's all different types of feelings that are combined to make you, when you smell the fragrance it just evokes different feelings. You know, its very sensual it also brings you back to different memories and the floral Tiera note is just wonderfully beautiful.

Is it more fun to be you now than in the past?
Yes it's definitely a lot more fun being "Mariah Carey" [now] than it was when I first started out ... I was very young and people were kind of bossing me around and telling me what to do and it was more difficult to be myself.But, now, being able to make the music that I love ... whether its singing a big ballad or doing an up-tempo record that makes me happy — it's up to me to do what I want, and so it's fun.

Mariah dishes on tracks from E=MC2

Migrate — This is just a fun, festive song. ... It's about keeping it moving and having a good time. Every time I go into the studio, if I'm inspired by the track I'm working on and if I've put so much of myself into the record, at the end of the day I want it to be the most fun explosion of music that I can make.

Touch My Body — This is so amazing to feel how fast 'Touch My Body's' exploding all around the world — I'm just so thankful because it's a song that I love so much, a song that really does express my personality, and I feel like you hear that song, you watch the video, you get a little bit of a glimpse of who I am as a person.

Last Kiss — When I hear that song ... I feel like an eight-year-old kid — I'm like, OK this is me as a little girl singing. I was playing it at a party for a friend of mine who happened to have Quicy Jones as one of her guests there ... and Quincy asked me to rewind that song and play it over.

And I said, "Well, he is Quincy Jones! Thriller and Off The Wall, and if he's asking me to play as song over I should pretty much take that as a humongous compliment!" And I did, and it makes me really happy 'cos that's my favourite song.

Bye Bye — Sometimes when I'm writing a song like Bye Bye it does come from such a raw place that I'm, like, I'm actually crying while writing it, or thinking about it. But sometimes I will hear it and feel like this is gonna touch a lot of people. That's why it's important that no matter what's ever happened to me over my career that I stay the course, and continue to write and try and reach people. Because I know that I'm one of those people, and when someone does that and they write something that touches me I'm indebted to them forever.

For The Record — One of my favourite songs on this album. It's one of those songs that the people who really are fans of mine, who really know my music really well, tend to gravitate towards because it's — not only is it kind of a real life story but I've used a lot of my own songs in the bridge to tell the story. Towards the actor I say "for the record you'll always be a part of me, you'll always be my baby." And I kind of go through "can't nobody say I didn't give my all to you." The real fans who listen and then hear "I told you underneath the stars" they'll know that's for them. I'm really happy that people are feeling this song.

Love Story — I love Jermaine Dupri as a person and I love him as a fan, I'm a fan of his work. One of the funny things about Jermaine is when I say something to him, he just runs with it. I said on the beginning of Love Story I really want this beat to be hard, make this for the jeeps, do not make this too soft. I wanna stay true to what I love most which is urban music and R&B music, and I feel that's the same thing that JD loves.

Thanks For Nothing — It was the first ballad I wrote for this album. This song is gonna resonate with people who are really going through a bleak moment in their relationship where its like 'yeah, its fantastic, thanks for nothing.' You know what that is, I mean I'm being very sarcastic; it's a sarcastic moment in the land of Mariah Carey songs.

I Wish You Well — This is in the tradition of songs like, I would say, Outside I am Free — visual album cuts from different albums that all those people who aren't really fans won't know. Basically it's about coming to a place within yourself where you, no matter what somebody does to you, you can forgive them. And even if you're a little bit bitter about it you say your piece and you let it go.