The star opens up about writing new music for her upcoming album

After opening up for the first time about her battle with bipolar disorder exclusively to PEOPLE last month, Mariah Carey says she’s grateful for the love her fans have sent her way.

“It was really nice,” says the singer, whose new Vegas residency begins in July. “I say things off the cuff, but sometimes you have to be serious about things. It’s life. Everybody has their own stuff. As long as I don’t have to stop being myself, it’s just who I am.”

The star is also currently writing and recording new music for an upcoming album which will be a mix of ballads and upbeat tunes.

“It’s really nice writing and collaborating. Writing is my favorite part of the process,” she says. “Most people may love performing more — I’m not saying I don’t — but my favorite thing is being in the lab and working on new material and pouring my heart into it.”

Credit: Dennis Leupold

For all the details on Mariah Carey’s residency and life with her 7-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

When she hits the stage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for her “The Butterfly Returns” residency shows, her fans will see a more “intimate” side of her.

“It’s not like one of those extravaganza [shows],” she explains. “This is more like ‘Here we are, we’re together. Oh, you want me to do this song tonight?’ Maybe I’ll take a request from the audience. My band are such great players and singers.”

While her last residency was focused on her No. 1 singles, this one will have more “impromptu” moments with her fans. “It’s more like the fan favorites,” she says. “It’s something else for me to feel connected with the fans through the songs.”

RELATED VIDEO: Nick Cannon Is ‘In Awe’ of Mariah Carey for Going Public with Her Bipolar Disorder

As for what she’ll be sporting while on the stage? Carey will be going all out, as usual.

“I kind of can’t help myself,” she says, laughing. “I don’t know when I’m understated. Maybe in my sleep, and even then it’s not understated! I know who I am and I go with what works for me.”