Mariah Carey Talks To R29 About "I Don't" & Her Best Breakup Advice

Photo: Getty Images/Film Magic.
Mariah Carey has gifted the world some of the most iconic music videos of our time. There's the video for "Honey," where she dives into a shimmering pool like a mermaid in a nude bikini; the "Heartbreaker" video, where she fights — who else? — herself, in a movie theater bathroom; and, of course, the "We Belong Together" video, where she leaves her fiancé at the altar and runs away in her wedding dress — with a younger, hotter boo, naturally.

Her latest video, however, is lit — quite literally. In the visual for her new single "I Don't," she takes the whole wedding dress thing to the next level...by burning it in a fire pit while singing, "Boy I was buggin' / Thinking somehow I could trust ya / So I used to love you / But I don't, I don't." All this allegedly in the backyard of the home she used to share with now ex-fiancé, billionaire James Packer.

"You haven't lived if you haven't burned a wedding dress!" Carey joked with Refinery29 during a phone chat about the new single. "You're missing out on a moment!"

It's Mariah's world; we're just living in it. Read more from our chat with Mimi — including her best advice on getting over a breakup like a badass — then watch the video for "I Don't," below.

This moment in your career feels a little bit like a reinvention, or new phase. Do you feel that way?
“Hmm, I guess it is a new phase in my life. I mean I don’t really like to say that, because it sounds so dramatic. You know, it's really the same life that I’ve been having! It's just that I decided to write a song about where I'm at, and it’s been great to be able to make a video and do all that stuff again, because that’s what I love. I’ve been doing the live performing for the past few years and that’s fun and I love seeing all the fans all over the world, but I really love making music in the studio. So yes, it’s a new day, it’s a new moment.”

How would you describe the sound of "I Don't?" It feels a lot like old-school R & B Mariah, which I love.
“Exactly! I don’t really think it’s that new for me. It’s an evolution into where I am at this moment in life, but if people know some of my previous work — which may not be the most famous songs, or whatever — I have always been rooted in R & B and hip-hop collaborations and remixes and things like that. So that's where this song lives, you know what I mean? But it’s also got a fresh feeling, having [rapper] YG on there. I mean I really love him, and his song "Why You Always Hatin" is like one of my top three favorite songs. So when you have somebody that you really click with and connect with and then you work together, it usually has a good outcome. At least that's what I’ve found working with different collaborators over the years!”

So we need to talk about this video, because I was shocked when I saw that you burn a wedding dress. Can you tell me a little bit about the decision to have the dress in the video, and what that meant for you?
“Okay, so a lot of people have been reporting this, but in the video, this dress is a wedding dress, but it’s not a wedding dress — as in, not one that I had an intention of getting married in! But anyway, it seemed like it came full circle because in the "We Belong Together" video, I run away in a wedding dress. I tend to do that a lot, in real life and in videos. [Laughs] But the truth is, I wanted Brett Ratner, who directed "We Belong Together" back in like 2006, to burn the train of the wedding dress [in that video], and he wouldn’t do it! And I was like, ‘Let it go on fire, what’s the big deal?’ So I was directing this video and I was like, 'I’m burning this thing, I don’t care!'"

I love that. So with everything you've been through in relationships and now releasing a song called "I Don't," what would you say is the one thing you now definitely "don't" do in relationships?

“Honey, the song is called "I Don’t," so maybe we’ll leave it at that. Just read the song lyrics for the answer to that question. And when you write this, please put a wink emoji next to that! [Laughs]”

Will do! Okay, so I love your confidence always, but especially in this video, sitting on top of the car like a queen. How do you always maintain that confident, badass exterior?
“Oh my gosh, I don’t think I feel confident at all, is that how I read? The read is confident? That’s so funny! No, I see these clips of myself when I’m not looking, or I’ll see different memes or whatever, and I’ll be like, ‘Wait a minute, I was just preparing for an interview there, I look like the biggest bitch ever, what is wrong with me?’ [Laughs] It’s definitely not intentional, but everyone needs a pick-me-up some days if they aren't feel all the way together...for me I'll have caffeine, some tea, or some hideous diet beverage. I’m like, I just need to wake up and get it together and then just motivate myself because that’s the only way I can get it together — move quickly, and get ready to go about my day at my desk. Like, we did this whole video and pretty much recorded the song in less than, I don’t know, like 36 hours, like we worked so hard and so quickly getting this done, so you need that energy to feel at your best.”

Wow. You've said in other interviews that you're not currently working on an album, so why did you guys say, "This is the moment, we need to put this song out right now?"
"I just felt like it was a current moment for me, and what I mean by that is the song just felt that way to me, so I was like, 'Let’s not wait, because we always sit around and wait and second guess ourselves and you know, I’d rather just move at a little quicker pace this time.’ That was just the way I was feeling.”
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I think before you can really move on you just have to really be able to let go of the anger, and then you focus on yourself and do you.

Mariah Carey
This is another classic Mariah getting-over-heartbreak song. In real life, you've talked about finding love again after your more recent relationship. What's your advice for fans or people out there (like, me maybe!) who are having a hard time maintaining their faith in love?
“I have so many songs that can take you through every stage of those emotions! But I think that a song like "I Don’t" brings out a little bit of the angry side, you know? It’s not just like, ‘Oh woe is me, I’m sad, we broke up, somebody please I can’t handle it anymore, give me the alcohol so I can lay down on this sofa and die!’ It’s not that. [Laughs] I think before you can really move on you just have to really be able to let go of the anger, and then you focus on yourself and do you, and then look to someone else for whatever you’re looking for. But you just have to focus on you and just know that you didn’t do anything wrong. And if you did do something wrong, blame it on the other person! [Laughs]"

So everyone I know is obsessed with Mariah’s World. What was the biggest lesson you learned from doing a reality show?
“Well, the biggest lesson was that I called it a docu-series and then everyone continuously calls it a reality show. [Laughs]. No, it’s okay, I'm only kidding. I think with the series, I would have preferred to have a bit more music and a bit more time to work on it in general, because I am very hands-on. But you know, I had a really great time, I enjoyed myself, there’s a lot of footage and stuff that I’ll have forever. Especially of the kids and stuff that I didn’t use because we didn’t want to overuse them, but in my opinion, they’re their own show! Like for me, they’re hilarious. But overall I just feel like it was a good experience. If I did it again, I would lean a little bit more to it being about the music, that’s the only thing I would say.”

So Refinery29's mission is to empower women, but it can be difficult to feel empowered in these current crazy times we're living in. Any words for anyone who's feeling a little uncertain about the world around them right now?
“Well, I definitely don’t think I’m equipped to give major advice to anyone on this subject, because I’m feeling a little unstable about all of it myself. I personally express myself through music, like if we're talking about "I Don't," like I said, it lets you release little bit of your anger about a relationship, and there’s certainly some in the video. So I’d say no matter how you're feeling about the world, for me, music or art or self-expression is like a little bit of escapism. So throw yourself into some music and let it empower you to deal with any situation."
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