Cory Monteith may be gone, but Lea Michele feels his presence in her life now more than ever. Six months after his tragic death at age 31, the Glee actress is preparing to release her debut album, Louder, which is rich with reminders of the couple's "insane love" for each other. In a new interview with her BFF Jonathan Groff for the March issue of Teen Vogue, Michele, 27, opens up about moving on from the loss of her costar and real-life boyfriend.
"During Glee, I felt like I was scratching that itch of being an artist. I was at a great place in my life and I was so unbelievably happy -- my relationship with Cory made me feel like I could reach for the stars and more," she tells Groff. "So I was like, 'I'm going to challenge myself and do this record now.'"
Monteith, she says, was "such a fan" of the album while she was recording it. "He would be like, 'You're going to be a pop star! What are we going to do? Are we going to, like, go on the road?'" she recalls. "He would say, 'This is going to be big! And I'd be like, 'I don't know.'"
"He heard every song and gave me notes on everything," she adds. "He loved 'Battlefield.' I'm getting chills thinking about it. I would say 'Burn With You' was his favorite. He came into the studio that day."
Losing him last July -- he died of alcohol and drug toxicity in a Vancouver hotel room -- rocked Michele's world. But she's been able to go on in part because of the connection she still feels with him.
"I somehow feel the insane love Cory and I had for each other morphed into this strength that I have right now," the "Cannonball" singer explains. "There's just something about knowing he's watching everything I'm doing and feeling like I have to do everything now not just for me but for him. I also have a safety net below me -- if I fall or if it's too much, my friends and family will be there to catch me."