Lea Michele on Music, Cory Monteith and Being Comfortable with Her Body

03/04/2014 at 12:20 PM EST

Lea Michele on Music, Cory Monteith and Being Comfortable with Her Body
Lea Michele
Kenneth Willardt for Seventeen

Lea Michele

Lea Michele

Lea Michele's debut album marks the former stage star's official transition to pop. But the Glee actress hasn't completely shed some of her theater habits – like being comfortable in the nude.

"I come from Broadway – everybody's naked on Broadway," Michele, who earned rave reviews as a teenager in Spring Awakening, tells Seventeen magazine for its April issue, on sale March 11.

"I like to think of myself as more granola. I'm not going to run around naked or anything like that unless I'm at my own home," she says. "Today, I walked into my backyard and was standing out there naked for a while. Don't tell: My neighbors will freak out!"

Michele, 27, also bares it all through her music. Released Tuesday, Louder is full of power ballads that "express extreme love and some pain" about the tragic loss of boyfriend Cory Monteith.



Lea Michele on Music, Cory Monteith and Being Comfortable with Her Body| Glee, Cory Monteith, Lea Michele

Lea Michele

Kenneth Willardt for Seventeen

"I set out to make a really pop-heavy album that was fun and empowering – I love Katy Perry and Kelly Clarkson! But then I found myself picking and writing these songs that were very emotional and dramatic," says Michele.

Monteith, 31, died from a drug overdose in July. The two met while playing love interests on Glee, and their romance eventually made its way off-screen.

"I only have happy memories of Cory," Michelle tells Seventeen, recalling their years as costars, friends and loves, and saying he was not defined by his struggles.

"He was not his addiction – unfortunately, it won. But that wasn't who he was," she says. "Cory made me feel like a queen every day. From the minute he said, 'I'm your boyfriend,' I loved every day, and I thank him for being the best boyfriend and making me feel so beautiful."

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